On Monday, December 5, 2022, the grieving family of a woman and her young daughter who were found shot and killed in their home filed a lawsuit against the city of Dayton, the police chief, and two police officers, and 10 John and Jane Doe(s) as supervisors, managers, case workers and screeners whose identities are unknown. Attorneys Michael Wright and Robert Gresham of Wright & Schulte, LLC represent the family of victims 31-year-old Aisha Nelson and 6-year-old Harper Guynn. The lawsuit argues that Dayton police officers failed to follow department policy or protect the mother and daughter from physical and emotional harm, which led to their needless and tragic deaths.
On June 23, 2022, at about 1:50am and nearly 12 hours before Nelson and Guynn were found dead, two Dayton police officers responded to a domestic dispute on Burleighs Avenue. Police body camera footage later showed officers talking to Nelson and her boyfriend, Dante Hawes separately, where both said they had been fighting. The footage also showed Nelson telling police Hawes had a gun and asking police to make him leave for the night.
Police officers said Hawes was asked to stay in the basement. Attorneys for the victims’ family say that after 30 minutes of talking to Nelson and Hawes, the police officers made no decisions and simply left the location. Shortly after the two police officers left that location, 31-year-old Aisha and her 6 -year-old daughter Harper were found shot to death in the basement of the Burleighs Avenue residence. Hawes was later found in Alabama, dead in his car in of an apparent self-inflicted gunshot wound.
Through their attorneys, the family stated that they are seeking accountability and answers from the city and Dayton Police Department, as well as changes to manner in which department investigates domestic violence claims. They firmly believe that the officers failed Aisha, Harper, and their family. It was argued that at a minimum, department policy should have required that one or all parties be removed from the residence at the time of the original domestic dispute.
The lawsuit claims that Dayton police failed to follow proper procedures, failed to perform comprehensive risk assessments, and failed to investigate reports of domestic violence and threats of violence when they responded to the Burleigh Avenue home. It further alleges the city fails to provide adequate training and supervision to officers in domestic violence calls.