Real Estate Photographer Taking Legal Action After Being Shot by Homeowner

Real Estate Photographer Taking Legal Action After Being Shot by Homeowner

An Atlanta-based photographer is taking legal action after being shot upon entering the home he was assigned to photograph. The homeowner blames a "miscommunication."

Whitney Morris is now suing Real Estate Expert Advisors in Buford, as well as one of its employees specifically, after claiming they failed to inform a homeowner that he was scheduled to arrive in order to photograph the property. Also named in the lawsuit is the property owner, with Morris citing that she failed to “act as a reasonable person would under the circumstances.”

It is reported that Morris was initially booked to photograph Belinda Brooks’ home on February 1st, but after becoming unavailable, it was rescheduled for the following day. The problem arose when the new date was allegedly not relayed to homeowner Brooks. As per the instructions, Morris used the lock box outside the house to acquire the key and gain access.

With the property’s alarm system sounding upon his entry – and Morris unable to find the security code to de-activate it – he stepped inside. As court documents reveal:

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).

It was only upon hearing his cries that Brooks opened the door, to be told by Morris that he was the photographer. Brooks claims she was still awaiting a phone call to book in the rescheduled appointment.

Morris’ lawsuit includes filings for personal injuries, lost earnings, and expenses, accusing the defendants of negligence. With Morris out of work for several months, a GoFundMe page has been set up to help with expenses.

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My 2 cents ....and Adam is correct.

Typically, a key lockbox is only used for unoccupied homes. That's the point of the lockbox. This is so real estate agents and contractors can access the home because no one is usually there. It's completely reasonable to assume the alarm was left on accidentally.

Laws vary from state to state almost every case, Someone just in your house does not justify the use of deadly force even if castle doctrine is invoked. Firing blindly through walls and doors may get you an attempted homicide charge.

Andrew Mistretta's picture

"Someone just in your house does not justify the use of deadly force even if castle doctrine is invoked."

I can only speak on California, AZ and Nevada, but that is patently false.

Did he have a lawful obligation to knock, ring or announce himself, or was he there lawfully.

She had an obligation not to shoot at a person there lawfully. She is at fault, and whilst he could have done things to improve his situation, he was not obliged to.

Kirk Darling's picture

He was not there by invitation or arrangement of the homeowner or by the homeowner's legal agents. So, no, he was not there "lawfully."

Kirk Darling's picture

The alarm agency was going to call the occupant, who was going to tell them in panic that someone was prowling around in her house. The police were going to shoot him when they got there.

Daniel - I agree!

Moses Rodriguez's picture

I've known realtors to ring the doorbell even when no one was suppose to be at home just in case, and even say in a loud voice who they are.

Rob Davis's picture

I don't know about Georgia, but in most states you're not allowed to shoot through doors and claim self-defense. What if it had been a cop responding to an alarm?

dale clark's picture

Of course I was not there. If I set off an alarm (I wasn't given code, owner left on, etc), I lock up and leave. First of all I don't have the time to wait on police to verify everything after they arrive. Plus, when police arrive, I'm walking around with a tripod and gear that may look like some weapon, etc from a distance.

I do RE as a part of my business and one has to use common sense with current times. I often have agents ask if I can take a pic of the elementary school down the street.....I say no. Stranger with a camera on/near school grounds is not a good decision nowadays.

Kirk Darling's picture

The big issue is the alarm. Everyone in Georgia knows Georgians have guns. There is a town in Georgia where people are required by city law to own a gun.

The woman was technically wrong in this: Shooting through a closed door. OTOH, I've been shot at before more than once, and I've been surrounded by men with guns threatening to shoot me...unless you have had lots and lots and lots of realistic combat training, don't expect to be calm and collected when the panic button gets pushed.

We've been shopping for a house lately. Our real estate agent always opens the door with the lockbox key and then shouts from the door who she is before entering.

This photographer kept tramping through someone else's house, all the way to the bedroom door...with the alarm going off. He never announced who he was. He was bound to get shot by somebody. Alarm going off means police will arrive soon, and THEY will be ready to shoot whoever is in the house.

dale clark's picture

I agree. Why go into a house with alarm blaring. Lock up, leave and call agent to arrange for another go. Although, the person should not be shooting through closed doors, the photographer should have used a little more common sense....just don't go in.

This story has way too many holes in it. If the home owner truly shot threw the a door, she would have been charged! In which case she wasn't!

Can't say I'm surprised. It's USA after all

This story doesn't make sense to me. If the home owner truly shot the victim threw the door, then why was she not charged? And why was the case closed? The victim never states that he rang the doorbell, knocked on the door or announced his presence when entering the home. I would never enter a home unannounced.... unless I didn't want someone to know I was there. Seems a bit odd. You should NEVER assume a home is vacant. It all seems odd. He's suing the realtor, the home owner and has a "GoFundMe" account. I learned a long time ago ..... Things aren't always what they seem.

Jacques Cornell's picture

Shoots through door at target she can't see or identify. That moron just gave up her right to own a firearm.

The moron is the person who believes this story. IF she shot threw the door she would have been charged.

Jacques Cornell's picture

The moron is the person who believes charges are always properly made.

The person who created his "Go Fund Me" account is an actress. What better way to market herself......