Dayton Police Department body camera footage showed two officers responding to a domestic dispute call approximately 10 hours before a 31-year-old woman and her 6-year-old daughter were found dead in the home’s basement with gunshot wounds.
Montgomery County Coroner Dr. Kent Harshbarger identified the mother as Aisha Nelson and her daughter as Harper Monroe Guynn.
Police identified the suspect as Nelson’s boyfriend, who lived in the home for more than a year. He was found dead of an apparent self-inflicted gunshot wound in a vehicle in the Hunstville, Alabama, area, Dayton police Maj. Brian Johns previously said.
The Associated Press reported Dante Rashad Hawes, 32, of Dayton, was found dead in a vehicle June 23 in Falkville, Alabama. Morgan County Coroner Jeff Chunn said Hawes was suspected of killing his girlfriend and a young girl.
Dayton Police Department is reviewing the response internally, which includes the department’s Professional Standards Bureau. It is department practice to review any contact made by officers prior to a critical incident and domestic violence-related homicides.
Around 1:50 a.m. on June 23, Officers Kathryn Santos and Terrell Moore responded to the Burleigh Avenue on a report of a domestic dispute. Officers spoke to Nelson and Hawes separately. Both said they had been fighting the previous night and weren’t interested in continuing the relationship.
Nelson explained to officers she moved in around September and didn’t have family in the area she could stay with.
“I can go sleep in my car,” she said. “That’s what I have. With a 6-year-old.”
She also expressed concern and told officers Hawes grabbed a gun during the argument and told her to get out.
“Last night I was going to leave and get a hotel,” Nelson told Santos. “He cut my credit cards off.”
Hawes told Moore that Nelson broke things, provoked him and at one point locked him in the finished basement.
“How can I legally get her out of my house?” he asked Moore.
Because they’ve been living together since September, Moore explained Hawes would have to file paperwork to evict her.
“It’s still no quick fix,” Moore said. “...Be smart about what you’re doing. Don’t drink, don’t smoke, don’t get high and argue with her, because you’re not thinking right. If it gets heated separate yourself. Remove yourself from the situation.”
While both officers were talking to Nelson, Moore told Nelson if it’s not a good situation for her to try and make arrangements to leave. When Nelson said Hawes cut off her credit cards, he responded, “Where there’s a will there’s a way.”
“Maybe he could go?” Nelson asked.
While the officers were speaking to each other privately, Santos said she doesn’t think Nelson thought Hawes posed a threat to her.
“She’s adamant about staying. She’s not seeking safe haven at a neighbor’s house,” Santos said. “Her kid’s in there. She’s willing to step out and talk to us without her kid coming out knowing that the gun is still inside somewhere in his possession. I mean she’s saying she believes it’s a genuine threat, but if that’s the case, why are you still here? Why are putting yourself in this situation?”
Moore said Nelson wants leverage to make the man stay somewhere else for the night.
“We could it articulate it as domestic threats and take him to the jail, but she obviously doesn’t believe it,” Santos said a few minutes later.
“I don’t think it’s threats,” Moore said.
When the officers went back to talk to Nelson, Santos told her because there’s nothing in the system showing that Hawes can’t have a gun or be around, there’s nothing they can do. She added he told police he would stay in the basement.
“If you were standing here in front of me right now saying, ‘Yes I want to leave here, I’m afraid,’ that’s something else,” Santos said.
Nelson explained she’s been in domestic violence situations before.
“I refuse to let somebody uproot me again,” she said.
When Santos asked Nelson what she’d like the officers to do, Nelson said she didn’t want to see anyone “go through the system.”
“I just called the police because I’m letting you all know if he gets anybody to walk through this door and jump on me, I’m going to defend myself to the end,” she said. “If he continues to threaten me, I might have to go the route with the [temporary protection order], but right now I really don’t want to go through that because I know what it does to people.”
Later, Nelson asked the officers if they could ask him to leave for the night. Moore said they’ve asked him to stay in the basement for the night.
“It’s going to be documented that we were out here. It’s going to be documented why we were out here,” Santos said. “The documentation is going to be there if you do decide to go the TPO route.”
Before leaving, Santos told Nelson she can contact the YWCA if there’s an emergency and if she needs help getting housing.
“There are so many options,” Santos said. “I realize that finances because of him might be bare, but there are options even with that being an issue.”
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