Marvia Gray St Louis lawsuit: Missouri mother & son accuse Des Peres officers of using excessive force after wrongly accusing them of stealing TV at Sam’s Club.
A lawsuit filed Monday accuses four white suburban St. Louis police officers of ‘brutalizing’ a 68-year-old black woman and her adult son after wrongly accusing them of stealing a television.
Marvia Gray alleges she was ‘violently and physically seized’, thrown on the floor, beaten and handcuffed during her arrest at a Sam’s Club store in Des Peres, Missouri, on March 23.
She suffered serious and permanent injuries to her tailbone, back, shoulder, knees and arms.
Her son Derek Gray, 43, suffered a concussion, three shattered teeth, an open head wound that required stitches, and metal staples, the lawsuit said.
A lawyer for Marvia Gray told of the mother fearing of the severity of abuse her son was subjected to and the man becoming the next black fatality at the hands of police.
‘Mrs. Gray thought her son was about to be another black man unjustifiably shot and killed by the police,’ Andrew M. Stroth of the Chicago-based Action Injury Law Group, said in a phone interview with the Associated Press. ‘You can see in the video that she is terrified with respect to what they’re doing to her son.’
Marvia Gray told the St. Louis Post Dispatch: ‘I have no faith in the police any more. They tried to take my only child.’
Please let me go,’ and, ‘I´m humiliated.’
Onlookers in the store captured unfolding events with cellphone video. Two videos that Stroth provided to The Associated Press begin with Gray and her son already on the ground.
At one point, Derek Gray tries to sit up but two officers forcefully push him back down. He can be heard yelling, ‘Get off me,’ ‘Please let me go,’ and, ‘I´m humiliated.’ His mother screams throughout the approximate four-minute videos, several times imploring officers, ‘Please leave me alone!’
Police Capt. Sean Quinn declined comment on the lawsuit, citing the pending litigation.
The lawsuit filed in St. Louis County Circuit Court names the city and four police officers. The officers are names as Maull, Summers, Righesisen, and Claybourne. It seeks unspecified damages.
Mother & son sought to return TV they’d bought earlier the same day only to be falsely accused of stealing it.
Derek Gray lives in Virginia and works in security. His mother is in frail health with osteoporosis, rheumatoid arthritis, glaucoma and other ailments, Stroth said, so Derek Gray took leave from his job to care for her at her home in Creve Coeur, Missouri, another St. Louis suburb.
At the Sam’s Club, Derek Gray purchased a 65-inch Sony Bravia flat-screen TV for his mother, along with other items, Stroth said. When they got to his SUV they realized everything wouldn’t fit, so Derek Gray asked the store to hold the TV until he could return later and pick it up.
The trouble began when he went back to the store. At first, the lawsuit said, someone at the store expressed suspicion that Gray was trying to steal the TV. A store employee interceded and confirmed that Gray had paid for the TV and was there to pick it up.
Still, a Des Peres officer who was in the store followed Gray to the SUV and accused him of theft before being told by an employee that Gray had bought the TV, the lawsuit said.
Gray returned to his mother’s home and told her about the false accusations. They decided, based on how he was treated, to return the TV and get their money back.
The lawsuit said that while the Grays were at the store seeking a refund, four officers ‘violently and physically seized Marvia Gray and Derek Gray, throwing them to the floor, beating them, handcuffing them, then arresting them.’
John Bowman, president of the St. Louis County chapter of the NAACP, accused the officers of ‘bullying.’
‘In St. Louis and in the United States, when a black person interacts with a white police officer, the immediate concern is: Will he be treated with respect, or will they be allowed to make a call safely, or will they be harassed, beaten and killed because of the color of our skin?’ Bowman said.
Adding, ‘It appears in more and more police interaction between people of color and white police officers, there seems to be this feeling that they treat black people as a weapon because of their color.’
Marvia Gray was charged with municipal crimes of interfering with an officer and resisting arrest. Derek Gray was not charged.