(MEMPHIS, Tenn.) — The family and attorney of a Black man shot to death by a security guard, allegedly over a dispute about loud music, are demanding Kroger and the third-party security guard company it employed to also face charges.
Alvin Motley Jr., 48, was at a Kroger gas station in Memphis, Tennessee, with his girlfriend on Aug. 7 when Gregory Livingston, who is white, allegedly approached him about the volume of music coming from their car. After the initial argument between Motley and Livingston, Motley walked toward the security guard holding a beer can and a lit cigarette asking Livingston, “Let’s talk like men,” according to the affidavit. Shortly after, Livingston shot Motley in the chest, prosecutors said.
Motley’s attorney Ben Crump and the Rev. Al Sharpton said Wednesday that Kroger must be charged alongside Livingston and Allied Universal for facilitating the contract that resulted in the death of Motley. Livingston has been charged with second-degree murder.
“Kroger, you can’t pass the buck saying that this is an issue for the Motley family or the security company. It’s an issue for your company. … You have a duty to provide safety and have qualified employees and contractors who won’t kill Black people over loud music,” Crump said.
Crump and Sharpton called on the civil rights community to play loud music in front of Kroger grocery chain stores across the country in protest of Motley’s death.
A Kroger spokesperson said in an email statement that after an internal review of the incident, Kroger made the decision to end its relationship with Allied Universal Security in Memphis.
“We are deeply saddened, extremely angry and horrified by this senseless violence. At Kroger, nothing is more important to us than the safety of our associates and customers, and our hearts are with the Motley family and we stand with them in their calls for justice,” a Kroger spokesperson told ABC News.
When asked, Kroger did not respond specifically to Crump’s comments. Allied Universal has not responded to requests for comment from ABC News.
Crump and Sharpton said the shooting was racially motivated.
“I cannot imagine if the shoe was on the other foot and these were young white men listening to rock and roll or country music, nobody would say it was justified to kill them,” Crump said at Wednesday’s press conference. “So if you can’t justify killing them over music, you can’t justify killing us over hip hop music.”
Livingston’s attorney, Leslie Ballin, told ABC News that the shooting was neither racially motivated nor about loud music.
“Let it be known that we do not agree that this incident was about loud music,” Ballin said. “I don’t know of any facts that would lead to the conclusion that this event was racially motivated. If there are such facts, I’m ready to be educated.”
The surveillance footage at the Kroger gas station allegedly captured the incident but has not yet been released to the family or the public. Ballin said he objects to the release of any evidence, including the video footage, in fear that it could contaminate a potential jury pool.
Livingston’s attorneys requested their client’s $1.8 million bail be reduced, claiming the amount is excessive and therefore unconstitutional.
“My son was truly my best friend and I’ll forever hold him in my thoughts,” Alvin Motley Sr. said during the press conference before his son’s memorial Wednesday. “I just want justice for my son.”
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