League of Municipalities sends lawyer, state law says town’s safe
The League of Municipalities has sent one of its attorneys to Waxhaw, to collect more information about the tragic Jan. 5 death of Makayla Woodard. The town has an insurance policy with the League and as a precaution, in case of a lawsuit by the girl’s family, one of the attorneys on retainer was sent to collect data.
“This is just to be proactive, just in case,” Waxhaw Mayor Daune Gardner said. “The league sent their retainered attorney to meet with Chief Weiss.” Town attorney Chaplin Spencer would be joining them by phone, Gardner said.
No additional town funds were paid for the additional lawyer, whose presence is covered under the insurance policy.
On Jan. 5, 23 year old Michael Gordon’s two dogs attacked and killed Makayla Woodard, 5, when she walked out of her house at 324 Rehobeth Road to play with her own dogs. The pit bulls also seriously injured Makayla’s grandmother, Nancy Presson, 67, when she tried to rescue the girl, forcing Waxhaw police officers to shoot the dogs.
Neighbors told Union County Weekly weeks ago that they had seen a man and woman in their 20s standing in Gordon’s yard yelling and cursing the day before the attack, as they appeared to search for one or both of their dogs.
Gordon has since been arrested and charged with involuntary manslaughter, facing a Feb. 17 hearing in Union County District Court. He turned himself in to Waxhaw police Jan. 27, later posting a $20,000 bond before being released, according to Union County Sheriff’s Office officials. He had just returned from prison in May, serving 10 months for felony breaking-and-entering charges stemming from a series of incidents in 2006.
As for the town itself, state officials say there’s no legal worry.
“Under North Carolina law, a city can’t be held liable for failing to prevent the commission of a crime,” North Carolina School of Government Professor for Public Law Frayda Bluestein said.