Gwinnett

Atlanta photographer suing real estate agency after homeowner shoots him

When Atlanta photographer Whitney Morris entered a woman’s home on Feb. 2 for what was supposed to be a scheduled photography session of the home, he was not expecting to get shot, and the woman was not expecting him to be there.

Now, he’s suing Buford-based Real Estate Expert Advisors and one of its employees for allegedly failing to notify the homeowner that he was coming to take pictures.

He’s also suing the homeowner for her failure to “act as a reasonable person would under the circumstances.”

According to the suit, which was obtained by the Daily Post, the homeowner, Belinda Brooks, first hired Real Estate Expert Advisors to sell her home, which is located in Winston in Douglas County.

In turn, the real estate agency hired Advantage Home Tours — the company that Morris worked for — to take photos of the home on Feb. 1 for a website listing.

Because Morris was unable to take photos on Feb. 1, Advantage Home Tours rescheduled him, though email confirmations with Real Estate Expert Advisors, for 9 a.m. Feb. 2, though apparently without telling Brooks, the suit said.

“On Feb. 2 at 9 a.m., (Morris) arrived at Brooks’ home (and) took pictures of the outside of Brooks’ home,” the suit said. “Shortly after 9 a.m., (Morris) opened the lock box on Brooks’ home, took the key from inside it and unlocked and opened the front door. When (Morris) opened the front door, the alarm went off.”

After walking back to the lock box to look for a piece of paper with the security code to no avail, Morris re-entered the home, the suit said.

“Unbeknownst to (Morris,) Brooks was inside the house in a back bedroom with the bedroom door closed,” the document said. “Brooks retrieved her .38 caliber Ruger pistol (and) fired her gun through the back bedroom door and wall and struck (Morris).”

The suit alleges that Brooks did not open her bedroom door to see who had set off the alarm prior to shooting, and only opened it after she heard a man’s cries.

After calling 911, Brooks told the call-taker the same thing she had told Morris — that no one called to say a photographer would be coming by and that someone was supposed to call her to schedule an appointment for him.

Because that call never came, Brooks said she thought someone broke into her house and was defending herself.

The count against the real estate agency states the company “breached its duty by failing to inform Brooks that (Morris) would enter Brooks’ home,” that Cousineau also breached her duty to ensure Morris’ safety for the same reason and that Brooks breached her duty to “take reasonable and ordinary steps to ensure (Morris) was an unauthorized intruder who posed a danger to her before she shot him” by “shooting (Morris) before determining who he was or why he was in her house.”

Morris is suing for damages including personal injuries, lost wages, “mental anguish,” “consequential damages to be proven at trial” and medical expenses.

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