DES PERES, Mo. (KMOV.com) -- A 68-year-old woman has filed a lawsuit against four Des Peres police officers, claiming they beat her and her son over a false allegation that the pair had stolen a television from Sam’s Club.
Marvia Gray and her son Derek Gray, who are both black, said they bought a television from the Sam’s Club on Manchester Road on March 23. They could not fit the 65 inch TV into their SUV and said they made arrangements with store employees to come back for it.
The lawsuit says Derek Gray came back for the TV later that day but the television had been moved from the front of the store. When Derek asked store employees about the television, the lawsuit says the employee suspected Derek was stealing the TV. Eventually another store employee intervened to confirm that Derek had bought the TV earlier that day.
When Derek took the television out of the store and was loading it into the car, he was followed to his car by Officer Michael Clayborne. The lawsuit states the employees told Officer Clayborne, who is white, that Derek and his mother had bought the TV earlier in the day.
“Despite knowing this information, Officer Clayborne made an emergency phone call to the Des Peres Police Department. During this emergency call, Officer Clayborne falsely reported that he had ‘witnessed Gray steal a TV and place it in the parked vehicle,’” the lawsuit reads.
Derek drove to his mother’s house to drop the TV off and told her what happened at the store. It was then, the lawsuit states, that the Grays decided to return the television to the store for a refund.
The lawsuit says that as the Grays were returning the TV, four police officers, all of whom are white, “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. These actions are captured on closed-circuit video taken by the surveillance cameras in the store and cell phones of onlookers."
The surveillance video, obtained by News 4 from the Des Peres police's attorney, has no audio. But the Grays can be seen interacting with store employees for several minutes. At a certain point, Derek appears to get agitated.
A store employee on the phone leaves and returns with an officer, who walks up to Derek.
The officer appears to try to detain Derek and Marvia gets involved.
Then she walks away and another officer follows her. Police say she resisted arrest.
As this happens, Derek and an officer become engaged in a scuffle.
They go out of frame for a few seconds, then come back into view. Both end up against the wall.
"I don’t have no faith in the police, they tried to take my only child," Marvia said. "I said they were going to kill him, beating him so bad."
Those four officers are identified as officers Clayborne, Brandley Summers, Ryan Righesisen, and Bill Maull.
Des Peres Police Department posted a statement in March following the incident, where they said they were called to the store at 6:38 on a report of a stealing in progress. The statement said officers attempted to arrest the suspect, but an "struggle" ensued. At one point, Des Peres police said, the suspect tried to rip a fire extinguisher off the wall "in a manner to attempt to use it against the officer."
After the officer and Gray hit the wall, Derek is seen briefly on the surveillance video with a fire extinguisher in his hands as he and the officer go down to the ground.
Marvia is also eventually on the ground.
A minute later, another officer arrives and there is more interaction on the ground.
Attorneys for the Grays have only provided one video clip, which starts with the Grays already on the ground, apparently taken by a bystander.
Police said at the time the second person, a family member, was also arrested for interfering.
The police's statement said four officers were taken to a nearby medical center for treatment.
Both Grays were hurt during this confrontation. According to the lawsuit, Marvia Gray suffered severe injuries to her tailbone, her back, her rotator cuff, her knees and her arms, among other injuries. Derek Gray suffered three shattered front teeth, a head injury requiring 12 stitches and seven staples as well as a cut above his right eye that required seven stitches along with severe neck and back pain.
Marvia was arrested and charged with municipal infractions for obstruction and resisting.
To date, Derek has not been charged at all. In March, the Des Peres Police Department said they would seek warrants for assault on a law enforcement officer and stealing.
Tuesday, a spokesperson for the prosecuting attorneys office told News 4:“We have already begun and will continue to conduct a complete and thorough investigation.”
When News 4 asked if that included the officers actions as well, we were told:
“As with all cases, we will investigate fully and allow the facts to take us where they may.”
Marvia Gray is suing the city of Des Peres and the four police officers.