Marvia Gray, a 68-year-old Black woman, is demanding justice after she says Des Peres, Missouri police officers brutally beat her and her only son, Derek, over a false claim that they had stolen a TV from a local Sam’s Club back in March,
According to the St. Louis Post-Dispatch, Gray made her allegations public during a video news conference on Monday, after attorneys filed a civil rights lawsuit on her behalf against the city of Des Peres and four of its officers, which were involved in the incident.
The incident began on March 23 when Marvia Gray and Derek Gray, 43, went to Sam’s Club and purchased a 65-inch, flat-screen TV. The TV did not fit into the SUV that they were driving, so they took it back to the store and asked for it to be held until Derek Gray could return to et it.
However, when Derek Gray returned to pick up the purchase, things started to go awry, according to the lawsuit. A store employee apparently didn’t believe that Derek Gray had already purchased the item and made the 43-year-old come into customer service to show his receipt. However, another employee confirmed that the television had been purchased and Derek Gray put the television into his vehicle and returned home.
When Marvia Gray learned that employees had accused Derek of stealing the TV, she became angry and both she and her son went back to return the item.
That’s when things really got out of hand, according to the lawsuit.
“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 alleges. “These actions are captured on closed-circuit video taken by the surveillance cameras in the Store and cell phones of onlookers.”
According to KMOV4, both of the Grays sustained injuries during the confrontation with police. Marvia Gray sustained severe injuries to her tailbone, back, rotator cuff, knees and arms, among other injuries, while Derek Gray sustained three shattered front teeth and a head injury that needed 12 stitches and seven staples.
The Des Peres Police released a statement a few days following the incident, claiming that Derek Gray “did not comply and began to struggle with officers.”
“The subject attempted to remove a fire extinguisher from the wall (during the struggle) in a manner to attempt to use it against the officer but it was dislodged from him as he was wrestled to the ground.”
Despite the fact that the police statement said that officers were told that items were stolen when they arrived on the scene, neither of the Grays have been charged with theft in the incident.
There are currently no charges at all against Derek Gray, while Marvia Gray is facing charges of resisting arrest and interfering with police.
“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,” Des Peres City Administrator Douglas Harms told the Post-Dispatch in a statement. “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.”
The incident, however, has left Marvia Gray shaken, with the older woman saying she no longer has faith in the police.
“They tried to take my only child,” she told the Post-Dispatch. “They were beating him so bad.”