It all went downhill from the moment Derek Gray was unable to fit the 65-inch Sony Bravia television he had just purchased for his mother into the back of his 2018 Lexus SUV earlier this year.
Gray, 43, walked the television back to the Sam’s Club in Des Peres, Missouri and asked if he could leave it there until he returned to pick it up later after making more room in his car. He was told to leave it on a pallet near the front door and it would be there when he returned, according to the lawsuit filed last week by his mother, Marvia Gray.
However, when Derek Gray returned alone to the store that day on March 23, the store had apparently changed shifts because the television was no longer on the pallet and the employees did not recognize him. The lawsuit states that when he inquired about the television, the employees suspected him of trying to steal it and refused to give it to him even though he had a receipt. It was only when an employee who recognized him from earlier in the day confirmed that he did, in fact, purchase the television that he was allowed to leave with it.
Nevertheless, Gray was followed out the door by Des Peres police officer Michael Clayborne who still suspected him of stealing the television. Even after a Sam’s Club employee confirmed to the cop that Gray paid for the television, he made an “emergency phone call to the Des Peres Police Department,” claiming he had “witnessed Gray steal a TV and place it into the parked vehicle.”
Gray, meanwhile, had driven the television to his mother’s home and told her how he had just been accused of trying to steal it. The 68-year-old woman insisted on returning the television for a refund to show their displeasure at being falsely accused, so back to the store they went.
Surveillance video shows the Grays talking to employees near the entrance to the store when two Des Peres police officers walked in and began grabbing onto Derek Gray in an attempt to arrest him for stealing the television he was trying to return for a refund.
Gray pulled away as is his right to resist an unlawful arrest but the cops escalated the situation by pouncing on both mother and son, slamming the son against the wall and dragging his mother to the ground, placing their knees on both as they screamed out in protest.
“Leave me alone, please … What are you doing … Please let me go,” pleads Marvia Gray in a video recorded by a witness. She later said in a news interview she thought they were going to kill her son who can be seen bleeding from his head.
A third cop walks in and plants his knee on Derek Gray’s back, following by a fourth cop who joined the assault. Those four cops, Clayborne, Bradley Summers, Ryan Righesisen and Bill Maull, are all named in the lawsuit.
The witness video began going viral, prompting the Des Peres Police Department to issue a press release two days later, claiming to be the victims of assault when the video shows they were the aggressors. The press release states that Derek Gray “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.”
But the video shows the cop shoving him against the wall with the fire extinguisher and he grabs onto it. It is not clear if he was trying to use it as a weapon but it is clear he was being violently attacked when he broke no law
Prior to the surveillance video being released, Des Peres police said they would file charges of aggravated assault on a law enforcement officer as well as for stealing the television but it’s been more than two months and those charges were never filed. Instead, they charged Marvia Gray with interfering with police and resisting arrest and still have not charged Derek Gray, the one they tried to initially arrest.
In fact, the lawsuit states that police had already returned the television to the Grays a day before issuing the press release on March 25, claiming they would still be charged for stealing it.
According to the lawsuit which you can read here:
After Derek Gray and Marvia Gray were arrested, they were taken into police custody.
On March 23, 2020, the DPDPS seized the Television and other purchases Derek Gray and Marvia Gray had made at the Store and towed their vehicle.
On March 24, 2020, the DPDPS released the Television and other purchases to Marvia Gray and Derek Gray.
As a result of the actions of Officer Clayborne, Officer Summers, Officer, Righesisen, and Officer Maull, Marvia Gray suffered severe injuries to her tailbone, her back, her rotator cuff, her knees and her arms, among other injuries. These injuries have severely aggravated Marvia Gray’s pre-existing medical conditions of sarcoidosis, rheumatoid arthritis, osteoarthritis, osteoporosis and glaucoma. These injuries have caused Marvia Gray irremediable and permanent physical loss.
As a result of the actions of one or more of Officer Clayborne, Officer Summers, Officer Righesisen, and Officer Maull, Derek Gray suffered severe injuries to his head requiring approximately twelve (12) stitches and seven (7) metal staples, injury above the right eye requiring seven (7) stitches, three (3) shattered front teeth, severe neck and back pain, among other injuries. Witnessing her only son suffering these injuries after being falsely accused caused Marvia Gray extreme emotional distress and other psychological trauma.
Attorneys representing Marvia Gray stated the following, according to KSDK:
William E. Dailey, of the Dailey Law Firm, is also representing Marvia Gray. He said it is important to note that only Marvia Gray is pressing charges.
“She is a small woman,” Dailey said. “If you look at how the officer grabbed her from behind and flung her backwards, and this is one of our grandmothers. When I say ‘our’, I mean as a community. Not just black people, but in general, can you imagine your grandmother being treated that way?”
Gray’s legal team said her lawsuit focuses on how harshly she feels she was treated. The complaint states she and her son suffered several injuries.
The statement released from the Des Peres Police Department said four officers, along with Derek Gray, had to be treated.
Gray, who said she feared her son was going to be killed during the incident, said she’s lost faith in the police.
Following the release of the surveillance video, Stroth released this statement:
“The video speaks for itself. Marvia and Derek Gray were brutally attacked by officers from the Des Peres Police Department.”
Since the lawsuit was filed, St. Louis County Prosecuting Attorney Wesley Bell announced his office will be investigating “all aspects of the matter” but did not specify what he meant.
Below is the press release from police as well as three videos, including one edited by their attorney, a news report and a side-by-side video containing footage from both the surveillance video which contains no audio, as well as the witness video.