(NOTE: As you read this post, imagine you are hearing the voice of Paul Harvey.)
Let’s begin today with this spittle-flecked article by John Cole at Buffoon Juice:
Last month, a Madison, WI, police officer shot and killed Tony Terrell Robinson Jr., an unarmed 19-year-old. The city’s chief of police has compared the case to death of Michael Brown in Ferguson, MO.
On Wednesday, the Wisconsin-based Devil’s Advocates Radio Network reported that Robinson’s surviving roommate, Anthony M. Limon, had received an eviction notice, giving him five days to vacate their Madison apartment or pay their three-days-late rent and $1,192.15 for “bio-hazard cleanup” for removal of Robinson’s blood from the apartment. The notice was addressed to Limon and his mother, whose name also appears on the lease.
The notice was sent by landlord Ray A. Peterson. Peterson told Devil’s Advocates co-host Mike Crute that he believed it appropriate to bill Limon for the bio-hazard removal because Robinson’s name did not appear on the lease.
Ray A. Peterson, a heartfelt FUCK YOU from all of us here at Balloon Juice.
To learn more we must journey over to ThinkProgress:
In an interview with ThinkProgress, Peterson confirmed the report and argued that he was obligated to treat all tenants equally to avoid potentially violating non-discrimination laws. “If we gave them special privileges, it could be a real discrimination problem,” he explained. “In order to stay in business we have to treat the laws equally and all lessees equally.” He noted that an attorney for the tenants had indicated they intend to vacate without waiting to be evicted, which he termed a “delightful message.” Regarding the tragic death of Robinson, Peterson added, “We certainly feel bad about it.”
Brenda K. Konkel, the executive director of the Madison-based Tenant Resource Center told ThinkProgress that Peterson was under no legal obligation to evict Limon or charge him for the blood removal. “There is no law like that,” she explained, and while “he has to treat everyone the same in similar circumstances,” there would only be a legal issue if someone of a different protected class were also to be killed in one of his apartments by the police and he treated the cases differently.
In 1999, Peterson was convicted of violating a city ordinance after disconnecting the electricity and heat for an occupied dwelling.
Damn all greedy slumlords! How dare he do such a thing!
And now the rest of the story:
Tony Terrell Robinson was born into poverty and spent the last moments of his life bleeding from a gunshot wound, surrounded by no one but local police officers on the porch of his shared apartment.
At around 6.30pm last Friday, Madison police officer Matt Kenny forced entry into the house where Robinson had been living for the past few months with two of his friends. He was responding to a series of 911 calls about a young man behaving erratically, possibly violently. Shots were fired. A few minutes later, a witness says she saw officer Kenny and another officer dragging the limp, bloody body of the biracial 19-year-old out on to the porch.
The details of what actually happened that night are only now starting to emerge. The Guardian has spoken to witnesses who say hallucinogenic drugs played a role in Robinson’s strange behavior that night, and that at least one of the people who called 911 was a friend reaching out to police in the hope they would come to help Robinson deal with the episode.
Police say Robinson was acting violently before the shooting, and had knocked Kenny to the ground before he was shot.
Meanwhile, the community has erupted in protest, as young people marching under the banner of the Black Lives Matter movement again question why lethal force had to be used against a young person of color who had no weapon himself. They are describing the death as murder, and calling for justice to be served.
Earlier in the day Robinson had been out with a small group and had eaten magic mushrooms, according to a friend who was present at the time.
The friend, who had known Robinson for five years and whom the Guardian has chosen not to identify, said Robinson was inexperienced with hallucinogens and had consumed a large quantity.
According to radio audio posted online in the days after the incident, the first 911 call came in around 6.30pm. The police dispatcher describes Robinson as “yelling and jumping in front of cars”, later adding: “Tony hit one of his friends … no weapons seen.” It is unclear if the audio has been edited, but it appears that two further 911 calls were made reporting an assault within the two subsequent minutes. An anonymous witness has since come forward to local TV news alleging he had been punched by Robinson outside a restaurant opposite the apartment.
The audio suggests that Robinson then returned to the apartment, with Kenny arriving at the scene within about four minutes of Limon’s initial call.
What happened next remains unclear, but according to the police account the officer heard a “disturbance” inside the apartment and forced entry.
Both Ivy and other sources with knowledge of events told the Guardian that no one else was present in the apartment at that time, raising questions about the nature of the disturbance heard before entry was forced.
The police account states that Kenny was assaulted before he opened fire, with Madison police chief Mike Koval telling reporters that the officer was knocked to the ground after a blow to the head. The dispatch audio indicates just 18 seconds elapsed in the time between his arrival and shots being heard.
The massive outpouring of anger and love for Robinson in the days since his death contrast starkly with the challenges that he faced since his earliest days. His mother was only 17 when she gave birth to him, and his father was largely absent, in and out of prison for much of Tony’s childhood.
“Terrell grew up with no structure,” Turin Carter, his 24-year-old uncle, told the Guardian, explaining that little things such as regular meal times “help mold the child’s identity and help him know right from wrong”.
In his early teens, Carter says, Robinson effectively became the man of the house. But the instability and the ordinary angst of adolescence were compounded by changing three different high schools before he graduated from Sun Prairie high school, in another largely white community outside of Madison.
Nearly half of Madison’s African American students fail to graduate on time there, but Robinson finished early.
But in April , Robinson participated in a home invasion along with four others. In December, he was sentenced to three years’ probation, and people close to him say he had committed to turning his life around, discussing plans to attend community college and a potential move to New York, where he could be closer to Carter.
Well I guess the comparison to the Michael Brown case was appropriate. Trayvon Martin too.
Nowhere in any of the stories I read was there any mention of Robinson ever holding a job. It’s not clear how he supported himself, and the same can be said for his roommates. I will not speculate. The official investigation report is still pending.
So what does all this have to do with landlord Ray A. Peterson?
He owns the property where Robinson was apparently living when he was shot. Robinson wasn’t on the lease and it is unclear whether Peterson even knew that Robinson had been staying there.
The rent was due on the 21st of March but wasn’t paid so on the 24th Peterson sent out a 5-day notice to quit or pay rent. This is standard in most or all states. California even has approved forms. If the tenant doesn’t pay within 5 days the landlord can begin eviction proceedings. The tenant can still stay in the apartment without paying rent for a few more weeks before the sheriff shows up to physically evict him from the premises.
In this case the tenants were Anthony M. Limon and Tamara Herrera, so that’s whose names show up on the notice. This is a breach of contract action and the only contract is between the landlord and tenants. Standard practice here in California is to include “Does 1-10” in the court papers to cover additional occupants.
Generally the tenant is responsible for damage to the apartment during the tenancy. Is the landlord supposed to just eat the cost? What did he do besides own the place and rent it out? I’m guessing that Peterson isn’t some rich slumlord with lots of rentals because he’s handling this himself. He’s probably just some guy who owns a few rental properties as an investment.
Good luck renting that place out again after someone was killed inside of there.
But don’t worry, The tenants won’t have to pay any money if they don’t want to. Deadbeat tenants are typically written off as a loss because you can’t collect blood from a turnip. It’s part of the cost of doing business, and landlords just adjust the rents and deposits of other people to cover it.
And now you know the rest of the story.