One year after Maurice Brown was mauled to death by a dog in the Jane Reece neighborhood, authorities haven’t filed criminal charges, and family members are disappointed the dog’s owner hasn’t accepted responsibility.
David Brown, the victim’s brother, said his family is considering suing the person they believe owned the dog and failed to properly confine it. It is the second fatal dog mauling in Dayton in recent years.
“It’s tragic and we’re disappointed, for lack of a stronger word,” David Brown said. “But we lean on our faith.”
Because the criminal investigation is not complete, an internal affairs probe into Dayton police officers’ actions is not finished. City officials recently denied a request for that report, and have not said why the officers’ actions are being reviewed.
Dayton Prosecutor Stephanie Cook said the suspected dog owner is being investigated for misdemeanor violations.
“It has been presented, and we are currently reviewing it for charges,” Cook said, adding there is no deadline. “We want to make sure that we do a thorough analysis before we make a charging decision.”
Earlier this month, Dayton police Sgt. Michael Godsey said the case does not meet the requirements of a felony charge, based on current Ohio law. For that reason, he said, the case was presented to the Dayton Municipal Prosecutor’s Office for consideration.
‘God won’t charge him with a misdemeanor’
In the early morning of April 25, 2017, a pit bull chained up in the yard of a home at 345 Middle St. broke free of its restraint and attacked Maurice Brown, 60, as he walked down an alley that runs behind the property.
Brown, an early-riser who liked to take morning walks, graduated from the University of Cincinnati, was a talented musician, served in the U.S. Air Force and once worked in metallurgy, his family said.
He evidently struggled with the pit bull for several minutes. Neighbors heard his screams and called 911.
The pit bull was shot and killed by police. Three other dogs from the backyard of 345 Middle St. were removed by animal control officers.
Two of the dogs were euthanized in March. Montgomery County spokeswoman Cathy Peterson said: “Based on behavioral evaluations they were deemed not-suitable for adoption.”
Petersen said one dog was released and adopted. No one came forward to claim the animals.
Brown died of severe blood loss after suffering “numerous” bites to the upper and lower extremities, according to a coroner’s report.
Multiple neighbors who spoke to this newspaper said they believe the home at 345 Middle St. belongs to a relative of the dog’s owner, who lives nearby.
The property owner could not be immediately located. Property taxes have not paid on the home since 2014, auditor’s records show.
David Brown said his family believes in forgiveness but wants the dog’s owner to come forward and accept responsibility.
“God won’t charge him with a misdemeanor — he’ll have to answer to the higher power,” he said.
David Brown said his family has consulted with a lawyer and may pursue a wrongful death civil lawsuit against the dog owner or home owner.
Brown has many relatives who still live in the Dayton area. David Brown lives in Charlotte, N.C.
Dogs left to roam
Joe Ross, the co-president of the Jane Reece Neighborhood Association who lives nearby, said he could have been the one who was attacked by that dog, because he cleans trash from the alley almost daily.
Ross said he never saw the dog off its chain and likely was aggressive because it wasn’t properly socialized.
He said there are some irresponsible dog owners in the neighborhood. Some people abandon dogs, which then roam around. Some owners don’t properly restrain their dogs, he said.
The house at 345 Middle St. is near Riverpark, not far from the Dayton Art Institute.
“There is a problem of abandonment in this neighborhood,” said Jerome Wright, who lives with Ross. “This is a place where people leave their problems.”
Brown’s death reignited a conversation about the rules and regulations on vicious dogs that started with the Feb. 7, 2014, mauling death of Klonda Richey. The 57-year-old Richey was mauled to death by two mixed-mastiff dogs outside her home on East Bruce Avenue. Richey’s body lay outside in subfreezing temperatures until a passerby reported seeing a naked body in the snow.
When Dayton police arrived, the dogs charged them and were shot and killed. The dogs’ owners — Andrew Nason and Julie Custer — pleaded no contest to misdemeanor counts of failure to control dogs and were sentenced to 150 and 90 days in jail, respectively.
Legislative efforts to strengthen Ohio’s vicious dog laws via the Klonda Richey Act have stalled in Columbus despite numerous efforts.
Last fall, state Sen. Bill Beagle, R-Tipp City, and state Rep. Jeff Rezabek, R-Clayton, introduced companion bills in both houses. Beagle’s office indicated both bills are at the committee stage.