By Genoa Barrow | OBSERVER Senior Staff Writer
Editor’s Note: This story, originally published on Aug. 15, 2022 by the Sacramento Observer, was selected as the winner for Outstanding Investigative Reporting by a distinguished panel of judges as part of the 2023 Ethnic Media Expo & Awards. You can read the full story here. Click here for a complete list of winners as well as a breakdown of the day’s events.
Arizona prosecutors say Dandrae Martin beat, choked, stomped and urinated on his girlfriend for an hour, in front of their two small children in 2016 because she refused to let him prostitute her. In 2018, his brother Smiley Martin pled guilty to assaulting his own girlfriend, whom he encouraged to prostitute. In a prolonged attack, Smiley beat her with his fists and a belt until she was covered in blood.
The Martin brothers are suspects in a deadly shooting that occurred in downtown Sacramento this past April. When Mtula Payton was named as a third suspect and rival shooter in the incident that claimed six lives, law enforcement already was looking for the 27-year-old on multiple felony warrants, including domestic violence and gun charges.
According to the Sacramento Police Department, Payton’s warrant for felony domestic violence stemmed from an April 2 altercation in which a woman claimed he’d injured her.
Several deadly mass shootings, including the one in Sacramento, recently have made national news. Area advocates and stakeholders say that often left untold or underreported is a story behind the story. Before assailants commit heinous crimes and take innocent lives in public, they often display violent behaviors at home.
There is significant overlap in the factors that drive domestic violence and those behind community gun violence, such as trauma, mental health issues, and poverty and other socioeconomic inequality. Advocates and law enforcement officials say paying closer attention to abusers and limiting their access to guns could help prevent future firearm injury. Experts are also calling for a more comprehensive study of the intersection between domestic violence and other gun-related crimes.
Nearly 60% of mass shootings that occurred from 2014 to 2019 were domestic violence related. In more than 68% of those shootings, the perpetrator either killed at least one intimate partner or family member, or had a history of domestic violence, according to a recent Johns Hopkins University study. Though perpetrators of mass shootings tend to be White, researchers say there’s also a link between patterns of domestic violence and urban gun crime perpetrated by African American men.
Smiley Martin was released from prison in February, having served nearly half of a 10-year sentence for domestic violence. His release came just two months before police say he brought a machine gun to downtown Sacramento and opened fire on a crowd exiting a nightclub. When the younger Martin brother was first up for early release in May 2021, the Sacramento County District Attorney’s Office wrote a letter urging the parole board not to let him out, saying he posed a “significant, unreasonable risk of safety to the community.”
Read the rest of the story at The Sacramento Observer