Earlier this June, Tasha and NuBrit’tany Smith moved into their new apartment in the Landings at Morrison Apartments complex in Gresham, OR. But instead of a welcome wagon, they received threats from Dominic Austin, their 19-year-old neighbor.
This went on for months, until Austin was finally arrested in late September.
The Smiths’ Ring security camera even captured Austin’s escalating behavior. “You’re about to get murdered,” said Austin on one recording.
“You have to make sure you look outside your peep-hole. You look at your Ring camera before you exit your home,” NuBrit’tany Smith said. “Honestly, it’s like you live inside of a jail or something,” she added.
Another tenant told local news outlet KOIN 6 that they had seen Austin holding a knife in his hands.
Smith said “We were terrified, we were upset, we didn’t know what was going on.” On June 30, the day after the first incident, Smith informed informed both the police and property management of the behavior. She stated, “Instantly we took the videos from the Ring camera, attached them to an email and sent them to the Landings at the Morrison.”
Attorney Greg Kafoury said that legally, the Smith’s should have been protected. “Part of the rental agreement says that if a tenant should threaten another tenant, the landlord can throw the offender out in 24 hours notice.”
But that’s not what happened. Despite issuing multiple pleas for help to the police and property management, the Smiths say they ignored.
“As a Black woman, we, (my mother and me), I felt that we weren’t heard,” says Smith. “I feel that we were not important.”
“The people who run this very large apartment complex didn’t give a damn,” Kafoury stated. “The police didn’t give a damn. And I don’t know how anyone can look at those videos and come to any other conclusion.”
It wasn’t until September 8 that the property officially notified Austin. An eviction notice wasn’t even filed until two weeks later. Smith feels that these attacks might have been preventable if the property or police had taken action sooner.
The Gresham police released a statement to KOIN 6 in response to the Smiths’ grievances. It read, “We are aware of the terrible conduct of the suspect in this case, including statements that indicate the motivation for the crime is hate or bias. We share in our communities’ concern and appreciate the unique impact bias crimes, in particular, have on victims.
“Although the suspect has been arrested and is currently in custody, the investigation is continuing. We are working with the district attorney’s office to ensure the suspect is charged with the appropriate crimes,” the statement continued.
The statement read, “As with all cases where a concern about our response is brought to our attention, we will review our response to identify ways to improve our service to the community.”