Washington

Judge OKs shooting victim’s discrimination case against D.C. apartment building

A D.C. Superior Court judge this month approved a discrimination lawsuit filed by a tenant who was kicked out of his luxury apartment after being wounded in his doorway in a shooting that likely targeted a neighboring apartment where drugs were located.

Patrick Oseni, who is Black, filed the lawsuit in September 2021 against UDR Inc., which operates the Capitol View on 14th apartment building in Columbia Heights, alleging that the real estate corporation targeted him due to his race and ousted him from his one-bedroom luxury apartment, for which he paid more than $3,000 a month in rent.

“I think Patrick may have been shot by assailants who had the wrong door and nearly killed the wrong guy,” said Mark Smith of the law firm Smith Mustille LLC, who is representing Mr. Oseni with attorney Judith Mustille.

“No one should have to experience the trauma that Patrick suffered at the hands of a landlord who locked him out of his apartment because he’d been the victim of a crime, especially in a luxury building where the owners advertise 24-hour concierge and controlled access,” said Ms. Mustille.

Neither a spokesperson nor an attorney for UDR responded to a request for comment.

According to the lawsuit, Mr. Oseni opened his apartment door at about 10 a.m. on a Saturday in January 2020 and was shot in the head and torso. After undergoing life-saving surgery, he returned to his apartment two days later after being released from the hospital to find he had been locked out.

A building official told Mr. Oseni that other residents were uncomfortable with him in the building and forced him to vacate the premises.

About a month later, the FBI staked out an apartment on the same floor as Mr. Oseni’s former unit and confiscated “a cache of drugs, guns, and cash inside, including two pistols, an Uzi-style rifle, and thousands of dollars of hallucinogenic mushrooms, crystal meth, cocaine, and more.” The resident was a member of an alleged gang, according to the lawsuit.

“There is reason to suspect that the intended target of the assault on Mr. Oseni was the alleged gang member,” the lawsuit states. “But, because he is a young Black male, UDR management treated him like he was a culprit.”

The lawsuit says UDR acted with discriminatory intent against Mr. Oseni and was negligent for not having a 24-hour concierge monitoring the lobby, which is part of the building’s guarantee to tenants.

In addition, UDR had told residents that Mr. Oseni knew his shooters, but Mr. Oseni had told police they were strangers, the suit states.

According to WUSA9, a message sent to residents from UDR read: “Per law enforcement, the victim and shooter were known to each other, this was an isolated incident and there is no ongoing threat to our community.”

In court papers, the company argued there was no evidence to support the discrimination claim. It also said it was not negligent because the events that occurred were not foreseeable.

“Other than impermissible ‘naked assertions’ that Defendants were ‘racially motivated,’ there are no allegations that any action taken by any Defendants; i.e. changing the locks, and making a statement that Plaintiff And the assailants were known to each other, was tied to Plaintiff’s race. Accordingly, there are no allegations that an support an inferenve of discriminatory intent,” the court papers read.



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