BATON ROUGE — A bill inspired by a toddler tragically killed in his home failed on the House floor Monday.
House Bill 606, authored by Rep. Edmond Jordan, was inspired by Devin Page Jr., who was 3 years old when he was shot and killed while asleep after his mother attempted to get out of her lease and get to a safer place.
Baton Rouge Police responded to the 5100 block of Fairfields Ave. for the deadly shooting on April 12, 2022, around 11 p.m.
Page Jr. was asleep in his bed when a bullet came through the home window and shot the child in the head.
“After his mother attempted several times to move to a safer place and was denied, a stray bullet went through the home and the young kid was killed,” Jordan said in Monday’s hearing. “On the city level, on the metro council level, they passed a bill on Devin’s law that gave notification of crime statistics of a neighborhood that you had to do before someone rented a property in East Baton Rouge Parish. This bill does that but it goes slightly further. Initially, it was going to require cameras. It was going to require lighting. It was going to be for a larger radius and we had issues with that.”
The amended bill proposed that a rental tenant has the right to terminate a lease if two or more violent crimes or drug offenses have been reported with documented police reports in a 6-month period. Plus, the termination would not be reported to a credit bureau if the tenant paid the rent owed for the remaining term of the lease.
The proposed law stated that a tenant could receive early termination if they put in writing that two or more violent crimes or drug offenses occurred on the adjacent property, provide documentation that the crimes happened, and fulfill all requirements under the lease.
“As the bill stands right now, it does not require cameras,” Jordan said. “It does not require lighting. It is limited to if you’re in a single-family house. What this bill says is if you’ve reported two incidents of violent crime, I know some people have said any crimes, but that’s not true. Crimes of violence or drug offenses in a 6-month period, once you do that, it does not allow you get out of back rent or if you owed rent.”
The bill failed with 28 representatives for the legislation and 70 against it.
Page’s grandmother Cathy Toliver has been a driving force in getting legislation passed locally in East Baton Rouge Parish. She was also heavily involved in Jordan’s proposed bill.
“They were watering it down like we did with the metro council just to get it passed,” Toliver said. “One thing I said at my grandson’s funeral, I said his name will never ever ever be forgotten. I’m gonna always keep his name alive.”
Toliver said she is on a mission and will continue to promote Devin’s Law.
“I will continue encouraging people to put the guns down. I will continue with my street ministry twice a month going into the high crime areas with my PA System, and my team doing ministry on the street,” said Toliver.
She also started a campaign called “Help 5 Stay Alive.” It’s meant to encourage people to call five people once every two weeks to check on their well-being.
Toliver says it’s her mission now to get people to put their guns down.