Detroit Man Charged With Murder After Dogs Fatally Attacked Child
On December 2, 2015, a pack of pit bulls attacked a mother and her four-year-old son as they were walking to a school near their home on the west side of Detroit. The four-year-old boy, Xavier Strickland, was rushed to the hospital, but he did not survive. Prosecutor Kym Worthy has charged the owner of the dogs with murder for his connection to the incident.
The four pit bulls were owned by Geneke Lyons and were known to be vicious animals as other neighbours had previously complained about them. On the day of the attack, Lucille and Xavier Strickland were walking on the side of the road opposite from Lyons’ property specifically because the family has had problems with the dogs’ behavior in the past. The pit bulls escaped from the yard, crossed the street, and began attacking the family. Though Lucille tried to shield Xavier, the dogs managed to drag her son away from her and pulled him under the fence. Neighbors heard Lucille’s screams and rushed to her assistance, but mace, clubs, and bricks, could not free the child from the dogs. Police officers quickly arrived and shot three of the dogs, but sadly, it was too late to save Xavier.
Lyons was later arrested, arraigned, and taken to the Wayne County Jail. Magistrate Dawn White refused the request for an affordable bond from Lyons’ attorney. Lyons’ attorney claimed that his client is a responsible and law-abiding citizen who should not be in jail. However, the prosecutors charged Lyon with second degree murder due to evidence that the dogs were untrained and regularly escaped from the fenced-in yard. According to Prosecutor Worthy, “The alleged actions of the defendant in this case rise to the level of murder in the second degree. It is a gross understatement to say that this case is a harrowing example of irresponsible pet ownership.”
Many neighborhoods in Detroit have dealt with vicious dog attacks in the past, so people are glad to see that the government is taking the issue so seriously. The Strickland family has also expressed their satisfaction after learning that Lyons had been charged with murder. Though Xavier’s family knows that nothing can bring him back, they are grateful that justice will be served.
In addition to the criminal charges, the Stricklands have filed lawsuits against both Lyons and Lyons’ limited licence corporation, which owns the property the dogs were on. Not only was Xavier killed, but Lucille suffered permanent injuries while trying to protect her son during the attack.
Both the murder charges and the lawsuit are making a stand against dog attacks. Many Detroit residents suffer from vicious dogs and irresponsible pet owners, and this horrific incident has helped bring awareness to the problem. The attorney representing the Strickland family says, “This case should be a wake-up call for our community…it’s time to address this problem in a very serious way.”