68-Year-Old Black Woman And Her Son Attacked By Police In Missouri Sam's Club: I Thought 'They Were Going To Kill Him'
"They going to kill him. I gave up. This is the way Derek is going to go," Marvia Gray said of watching her son being assaulted by the officers.
May 20, 2020 at 12:15 am
Officers in Des Peres, Missouri, are being sued by a 68-year-old Black woman and her son after they were attacked at a Sam's Club on March 23, according to the Associated Press.
On Monday, Marvia Gray filed a lawsuit in St. Louis County Circuit Court against four police officers who she says beat up her son, Derek, leaving him with a concussion, three shattered teeth and other injuries. Derek, who previously worked as a security guard in Virginia, moved to Creve Coeur, Missouri, after his mother became frail due to osteoporosis, rheumatoid arthritis, glaucoma and other ailments.
Video of the beating began to circulate online in the days after the incident but gained traction in recent weeks.
The mother-son pair bought a 65-inch Sony Bravia flat-screen TV and were trying to bring it home but didn't have space in their car. Derek asked Sam's Club employees to hold the TV for him as he went home to drop off the other items they bought, the AP reported.
When he returned, some of the employees at the store claimed he stole the TV. It was only when another cashier came over to confirm that Derek had in fact purchased the TV that they let him go.
It's unclear what, if anything, took place between the time Derek left the store and when he returned that led employees to believe the TV had been stolen. According to the St. Louis Post-Dispatch, when Derek told his mother what happened, she became irate because she'd been shopping at the store for a decade.
They both went back to the store to return everything they bought, and that's where the altercation began.
“While the Grays were at the Store attempting to get a refund, Officer (Michael) Clayborne, Officer (Bradley) Summers, Officer (Ryan) Ringeisen, and Officer (Bill) Maull, without cause or adequate provocation and in the presence of countless witnesses, violently and physically seized Marvia Gray and Derek Gray, throwing them to the floor, beating them, handcuffing them, then arresting them," the lawsuit stated.
"These actions are captured on closed-circuit video taken by the surveillance cameras in the Store and cell phones of onlookers,” the lawsuit, which was filed by Marvia's lawyers William Dailey and Andrew Stroth, read.
Videos shared online showed the second half of the incident, where the officers are seen pushing Derek to the ground as Marvia screams.
When police tried to detain Derek, he protested, and that is where the video shows multiple officers beating him up and handcuffing Marvia. Derek's injuries to his head were so severe they required metal staples.
“Leave me alone, please … What are you doing … Please let me go,” Marvia screams in the video.
In the lawsuit, she said she thought they were going to kill Derek.
“They going to kill him. I gave up. This is the way Derek is going to go. They were beating him so bad,” Marvia said during a press conference on Monday.
Marvia and Derek's account of the incident differs greatly from the police statement that was issued after the video was posted online.
In a Facebook post, police stated they attempted to detain Derek when he and his mother returned to the store after it was determined that the items were stolen, even after the store confirmed that he bought them.
Although charges haven't been officially filed against Derek, police did say they are charging 68-year-old Marvia with interfering with an officer and resisting arrest.
In the post, police say one of their officers initially "believed he witnessed a possible theft in progress" but after speaking with "the subjects involved," he let them go.
In an emailed statement to the St. Louis Post-Dispatch, Des Peres City Administrator Douglas Harms denied the officers did anything wrong.
“Director of Public Safety Eric Hall has reviewed all reports and a video of the incident and unequivocally denies that officers used excessive force to ‘beat’ the plaintiffs…Charges remain under review by Prosecuting Attorney Wesley Bell who has been provided a copy of the store video and all incidents reports by Des Peres police. The city will have no further comment at this time,” he wrote.
The lawsuit accuses the officers and the city of false imprisonment, malicious and false prosecution as well as assault and battery.
“We are demanding accountability. Mrs. Gray thought her son was about to be yet another black man, unjustifiably shot and killed by the police. Whether it’s Michael Brown in Ferguson, Missouri, or Ahmaud Arbery in Brunswick, Georgia, we demand justice and accountability to prevent these tragic events from happening in our communities,” Stroth said during the news conference.