WKRG is digging deeper into the circumstances that allowed a violent homeless man back onto the streets of Mobile unnecessarily. It appears that the actions, or more accurately the inaction, of a Mobile Police officer, may have led to Douglas Dunson being released back onto the streets of Mobile instead of being held behind bars.
Dunson is the homeless man charged with the brutal beating and attempted rape of a woman in the RSA Tower parking garage on Tuesday.
On May 25, Dunson was arrested after he allegedly “exposed his genitals while at the intersection of Dauphin and Conception streets in front of a crowd of people in the downtown area”, according to the complaint. That complaint, a legal document that contains the specific criminal allegations, had not been signed by the witness when Dunson appeared before Judge Karlos Finely on Monday, May 28.
Because there was no “sworn complaint,” Judge Finley gave Dunson a court date in late June and ordered him to be released on his own recognizance. He was released that day according to jail records.
The witness, who should have signed the complaint, is a Mobile Police officer, according to Chief Lawrence Battiste. Battiste tells News 5 that the arrest happened on the Friday of Memorial Day weekend and that the magistrate judge did not work on Saturday and only worked a few hours on Sunday. Battiste says the officer’s normal off days are Sunday and Monday. The officer signed the complaint on Friday, June 1, but Dunson had already been released by order of Judge Finley.
Mobile Municipal Court Administrator and Former Circuit Court Judge Charlie Graddick told News 5 that the officer “should have signed it as soon as he arrested him.” Judge Graddick says he is looking into what actions can be taken within the courts to make sure complaints are signed in a timely manner. Graddick also tells News 5 that it is not mandatory that a person be released. With a warrantless arrest, the judge should look at the charges and has the option to determine the person is a threat and hold them, Graddick said.
Coincidentally, Dunson was in Mobile Metro Jail on June 1, when that complaint was signed, after being arrested the previous day for a May 17, 2018 incident where he was seen “wandering naked” in the parking deck at 505 Government street, according to court records. Dunson was not arrested the day of that incident.
It is unclear why Dunson was released on June 3 despite there being a sworn complaint signed three days earlier.
At his first court appearance on Thursday on the assault and attempted rape charges, Judge Jill Philips determined that Dunson was a danger to society and ordered him to be held with no bond.