Over One Month In Hunger Strike, Mother Still Demands Answers From Duquesne

Aug 5, 2020

It has been just over a month since Dannielle Brown started her hunger strike on Freedom Corner to get answers from Duquesne University on her son's death. And while the University said in July that it would provide her the records she seeks, Brown is still waiting. 

Marquis Jaylen Brown died in October 2018 after he fell from the window of his dorm on the 16th floor of Brottier Hall on Duquesne's campus. The university has said that school police were responding to a disturbance in the dorm, and that while they were speaking with Brown, he "shocked the officers by suddenly grabbing a chair, breaking the window, and diving out without time for anyone to stop him." 

Dannielle Brown says she finds that account unlikely, and began a hunger strike in which she demanded: full cooperation and participation in her private investigation; body cameras for on-campus officers; and mental health crisis training for university police. In mid-July, Duquesne said it would "make available for in-person review to Ms. Brown's attorney and/or investigator its complete Duquesne University police file on this matter."

Brown said this week that she has not received any of the requested information. "They said they weren't prepared," she said. "Why would they release a statement if you weren't prepared to give files?" 

Duquesne said the delay stems from the need to clear legal hurdles. In a written statement, the school said it is working with Brown's lawyer to “ensure our process to share information adheres to federal privacy laws."

"It is rare that a process like this can occur instantaneously," the statement said. "Rather, the lawyers must collaborate to make sure information is shared in a manner consistent with all legal parameters. That is the process we are engaged in presently."

The school did not provide a timeline for when the work would be completed. A "Living Funeral Service" is planned for Brown on Freedom Corner at 5 p.m. Thursday.