Safety Advisory: Ricky Love is back in Midtown
Among the very first of the street people to come to our attention was Ricky Love- For years this dangerous individual has terrorized the Midtown community with his frightening episodes, and in some cases, with random brutal assaults on people who happen along. After he spontaneously assaulted a woman on Peachtree in 2006, he became a high-priority court watch case for us. We have not had any issues with him since.
Until this week… On Thursday Ricky Love was spotted first on North Avenue, and a short while later at Ponce & Myrtle during lunchtime. Please heed our warning that this individual is very dangerous and irrational, and police must use advanced-level tactics in order to intercept him. If you encounter Ricky Love we implore you to steer well clear of him, and if he approaches you be very attentive as you calmly move to a safer location. If he is having an episode such as the ones in the video call 911 immediately, as this is when he is most imminently dangerous to bystanders and passers-by. Most of the time he will move on within a few minutes, but he is liable to inflict serious injuries at any time. Hopefully we can develop effective long-term measures to protect our community – before someone gets hurt again.
- Pictures and video below. Background notes from his watchlist file also posted below (also available in PDF form).
To bring you up to date on the Ricky Love case, we share with you some items previously published:
1. Narrative on assault 8/21/2006 Sent to MPSA by the victim of the assault on Peachtree
I wanted to bring your attention to a situation that I experienced on August 21st at approximately 4:45pm.
I was heading south on Peachtree St. on the west side of the street and noticed a black male on the sidewalk in front of Gordon Biersch yelling at himself (as no one else was present) and waving his arms around as if he were fighting someone. I continued to walk ahead and decided to just ignore this person, so not to make eye contact or to give him a reason to ask for money or show any aggression towards me.
I was between Spire and Gordon Biersch as the gentlemen walked past me and once he was out of my vision and well to my side and to the back of me started punching me in the head, the neck and the back until I loss my balance and fell over a wire or rope that was used to secure perhaps a newly planted tree. I was fortunate that I didn’t fall in to the street at rush hour.
He walked off as I lay on the ground and no one attempted to go after him and I watched as he turned west on 7th St. He did not steal anything from me nor did he ask me for anything. I reported it to Midtown Blue by phone and then physically walked over there. Officer Kilgore of the APD took my report.
I went back to Midtown Blue the following day to ride around Midtown late afternoon with one of the officer’s to try and identify the attacker. They also took pictures of my bruises at that time. I did identify a black male that was yelling at himself and throwing his arms which happened to be sitting on the sidewalk up against my condo building (Metropolis) and I understand that he was arrested that night.
The next day I received a call from a detective that needed me to try and pick out the attacker from a picture line up, which I did. It was the same person that I id’d in front of Metropolis the previous day.
The attacker, Rick Love, has been charged with aggravated stalking and aggravated battery. He was to go in front of the Grand Jury on Friday, September 1st and was scheduled to be on an All Purpose Calendar the same day. There is a preliminary hearing scheduled for September 7th, not sure of room or time at this point.
Please feel free to share this information with the Safety Committee and other’s. I’m happy to keep you posted on any upcoming hearing dates and further information as it relates to this case and certainly would welcome any and all support from you and other’s in attending any upcoming court dates and hearings.
2. Report from first hearing of Ricky Love (reported in Eye on Midtown in 2006)
- September 14, 2006, before Judge Craig Schwall In Fulton County Superior Court
Ricky Love is accused of assaulting a Midtown female resident as she was walking on Peachtree Street from the Metropolis toward Gordon Biersch. This was an unprovoked attack. He is noted for years of menacing the community with his highly irrational conduct and violent episodes.
This case was discussed in some detail at the Midtown Safety Meeting (the report of which is still forthcoming) on September 11th and the request was made for all who could, to attend his hearing whenever we received notice. A number of people attending the meeting had had personal physical encounters with Ricky Love, or have witnessed some of his frightening episodes. There was lot of talk about how dangerous he is to society. During the discussion, the question was asked many times, “What can we do to get this man off the streets for good?”
The notice of Ricky Love’s first hearing came the day before he had a hearing in Fulton County Superior Court at 9:30 am the very next day! Midtown Neighbors Association and Midtown Ponce Security Alliance both sent out e-blasts announcing the hearing and asking those who could to attend.
Seven people from the Midtown commununity – Kent Hackmann, Dan Weinheimer, Rufus Terrill, Mark Hallenberg, Peggy Denby, Joe Williams, and Steve Gower – attended this hearing.
The Judge had been informed that the neighborhood had sent representatives and they wanted to speak to him directly. When Judge Schwall came to the court room, he very quickly asked who was there from Midtown and we all raised our hands. He then asked for comments. Several court watch attendees all spoke to the court about their threatening, personal encounters with Ricky Love. One explained that this behavior had been going on for a number of years. Peggy Denby and another Midtown spoke about general neighborhood safety concerns and how Ricky Love is a menace to our quality of life.
Judge Schwall then ruled as follows:
- His bond of $52,000 was revoked;
- Ricky Love is obviously a danger to the community, and ordered a psychiatric evaluation
- No further decisions will be made without neighborhood involvement!
- Judge Schwall then asked the neighborhood group to designate a contact person, and it was recorded that Peggy Denby would serve that role.
We believe that we have answered the previous question, “What can we do to get this man of the streets for good?” The answer is: We can do it by appearing in court and giving the Judges the information they need to take people off the streets. The police cannot take people off the street except to arrest them. Affected citizens and victims must come together to do what we did this morning. It appears the court system does not work all that well in that there was very little information in the courtroom this morning specific to Ricky Love other than what we, the affected citizens, offered.
This was a real testament to the power of the people. We went there to protect ourselves and our neighborhood from a very dangerous person. We delivered that message and it was heard. This was only the first hearing for Ricky Love, and more will follow culminating in the trial itself.
After the hearing, two social workers came up to us from Community Friendship. They came to the hearing because of their concern about Ricky Love being allowed back on the streets. We exchanged information and agreed to keep them informed.
3. Article in Sunday Paper [defunct] – publication date estimated late July or early August 2009
Midtown battles the same offenders over and over
- By Patrick Bray and Stephanie Ramage – Sunday Paper
“Unless they are caught with a gun or drugs on them, the judges are not going to do anything and the suspects know that.”—APD officer who spoke on condition of anonymity
Yet another concern is Ricky Love, who is currently in jail after years of terrorizing people in Midtown. The Fulton County Superior Court convicted him in September 2008 for aggravated assault. Love was sentenced to 10 years imprisonment but credited with two years already served in pre-trial detention. The judge suspended the remainder under two conditions: Love must undergo treatment for mental health issues and banishment from Fulton County.
Although crime is down overall in Midtown, according to the MPSA, recidivism remains a constant source of worry. Some residents have seen the same faces in the backs of police cars so often they can identify the offenders and rattle off their rap sheets.
The issue of recidivism is so pressing that Fulton County Commission Chairman John Eaves showed up at a very heated press conference held by Mayor Shirley Franklin and Atlanta Police Chief Richard Pennington last week to point out the role that it might be playing in Atlanta’s disturbing crime problem. Eaves said a majority of the occupants of the Fulton County Jail will be re-arrested within three years of their release. He also pointed out that the jail is the metro area’s leading provider of mental health services, since most public mental health resources have been cut over the past few decades. Eaves said he was tired of seeing the mentally ill, substance-addicted, poor and homeless incarcerated.
The MPSA does not cast the blame on Atlanta City Hall or the police department, but on the judges who release the offenders, who then return to Midtown and commit the same crimes again.
“Unless they are caught with a gun or drugs on them, the judges are not going to do anything and the suspects know that,” says one policeman, who spoke on condition of anonymity.
Judges typically do not speak to the press, and District Attorney Paul Howard could not be reached for comment. A staffer says the DA’s stable of attorneys were all attending a conference last week.
But, according to Clayton County Juvenile Court Judge Steve Teske, it’s the district attorney—in any court—who has the most control over things like recommending that bail be denied, or offering a plea bargain, two things that often determine whether repeat offenders wind up back on the street. According to Teske, immediate past president of the Council of Juvenile Court Judges of Georgia and former delegate to the assembly of the American Correctional Association representing adult community corrections, most serious crimes in Atlanta are bound over to Fulton County Superior Court from Municipal Court.
At that point, the district attorney would tell the presiding judge why an individual may or may not be a threat to the community. The district attorney, says Teske, has the responsibility to tell the judge whether he would recommend that bail be denied or set high enough to reflect the seriousness of the offense. The idea is to make sure the accused person shows up for trial. Someone who owns no property and has no job is more likely not to show up than someone who has a lot to lose.
“We live in a free society, not a police state. Almost everyone has a right to bail,” says Teske, “or to be bonded out.” Some are released on what is called an “OR” bond—that’s “own recognizance,” which means they don’t pay a dime to be let out. “But, if they are a danger to the community, they can be denied bail or bond.”
It’s during that time between arrest and court date that neighbors may be seeing previously nabbed criminals back in their neighborhoods. That’s also when police may be picking up the offenders for yet another crime.
While some point to jail overcrowding as a culprit, Teske said that really should not figure into a judge’s sentencing equation.
The Fulton County Jail normally holds 2,250 inmates and is one of the largest in the country. But according to Chief Jailer Riley Taylor, because of a jail renovation project currently underway, it holds fewer inmates than usual.
Under the Master Jail Complex Plan, the Fulton County Jail will be expanded to hold 5,035 inmates. Until then, inmates are being outsourced to the DeKalb County Jail, Hall County Jail, and Union City Jail.
Instead of keeping them locked up, Taylor believes the key to stopping repeat offenders is to intervene in their lifestyles of crime, violence and chemical dependency.
“Breaking this cycle would lower crime, reduce the crime effect upon victims, prevent future victims, and enhance overall public safety,” says Taylor. “This is what community policing and crime prevention is all about.” SP