Woman on hunger strike to pressure authorities into reopening case of her son’s death at Duquesne University

Woman on hunger strike to pressure authorities into reopening case of her son’s death at Duquesne University

PITTSBURGH — Dannielle Brown, the mother of Duquesne University football player Marquis Jaylen Brown, is on a hunger strike to pressure authorities into reopening her son’s case.

Marquis Brown died after jumping 16 stories from a dorm room window nearly two years ago.

“No way anyone should send their kid to college and have them returned to them in a casket,” Dannielle Brown said.

Content Continues Below

It was Marquis Brown’s, or JB as his friends knew him, 21st birthday.

Dannielle Brown said she had just talked to her son that night, who had told her he had just got a haircut and was excited to see his family that weekend for the university’s homecoming football game.

But a few hours later, he was dead.

She said she knows no more now than what authorities told her that night in October 2018.

“I reason that two things either happened. Either the four people in the room watched him jump out that window, or they had their hands in participating in him going out that window,” Dannielle Brown said.

Sunday marked day two of Dannielle Brown’s fast at Freedom Corner in the Hill District. She said she’s ready to take her last breath right here in Pittsburgh just like her son did if that’s what she has to do to get answers.

“Let me push back the plate and make my appetite his justice. Let me push back the plate and make my appetite my determination,” she said.

According to police, Marquis Brown had been acting erratically that night, pacing up and down the dorm hallway and prompting several students to call 911. Witnesses told police Marquis Brown threw a chair through the residence hall window before jumping.

Dannielle Brown said four people were in that room when her son jumped, including campus police and security.

She wants to know why they couldn’t help her son.

“When the police came, that’s where it gets murky. How did he go from being in the hallway to four officer, and now he’s 16 floors out the window. It just doesn’t make sense to me,” she said.

Channel 11 reached out to Pittsburgh police for a comment. A spokesperson said investigations are always considered open and that they are unaware if police have been in contact with Dannielle Brown.

“A spokesperson for Duquesne University released the following statement on Monday:

The University continues to grieve the tragic loss of an exceptional student athlete, Marquis “J.B.” Brown. Following his death in 2018, the Pittsburgh Police conducted a thorough investigation—the report of that investigation is publicly available: http://www.pittsburghpa.gov/press-releases/press-releases.html?id=2640

In addition, the University had a thorough and separate investigation conducted into the incident, in order to independently gather facts. We have not made the details public out of respect for the family’s privacy, but last week we extended an invitation to meet with Ms. Brown and her counsel to share that information. 

We believed Ms. Brown had much of this information, but from recent posts and statements it is now apparent that there is inaccurate information being circulated on social media and elsewhere about the events preceding JB’s death, particularly regarding the role of the Duquesne University police. We believe the facts will show that those officers acted appropriately and reasonably, which is consistent with the findings of the City of Pittsburgh police report.

We are anxious to have a meeting as soon as possible but so far neither Ms. Brown nor her counsel have responded to our offer to meet so that we can provide more information to them.

As a University, we are committed to transparency and to helping to provide information and bring closure to this tragedy for the Brown family and the entire Duquesne community.”

Police close case involving death of Duquesne football player