The prosecution of Gregory Livingston, who killed Alvin Motley Jr. last week while working as a security guard, inched forward on Monday with Livingston appearing in court with a high-profile local defense attorney.
Representing Livingston, who fatally shot Motley Aug. 7 at the Kroger Store fuel center at 6660 Poplar Ave., near the Memphis-Germantown city limits, is Leslie Ballin, who is rebutting assertions that the killing was about loud music and racially motivated.
“The shooting has been called ‘racially motivated,’ and that has generated a lot of sympathy,” Ballin said. “I feel sympathetic and certainly Mr. Livingston does as well. But sympathy does not belong in the courtroom, only the facts.
“It just so happens that the victim is an African-American male and Mr. Livingston is white. If there are some other facts that say this was racially motivated, please tell me what they are, because I haven’t seen any which support that claim.”
Ballin and Livingston appeared in General Sessions Court, Division 13, before Judge Louis Montesi Jr. Livingston, 54, is due back in court on Tuesday (Aug. 17). He has been charged with second-degree murder and is being held in the Shelby County Jail on $1.8 million bond.
Motley’s family has hired nationally renowned civil rights right attorney Benjamin Crump.
On Monday, Crump issued a statement asserting that it is “evident that Livingston was a threat to public safety who believed he had far more power than the rules and regulations allowed him, which ultimately led to Alvin’s death. If Kroger’s representatives, employees, or individuals who they contract with don’t respect Black life, then they shouldn’t expect our Black dollars.”
According to witnesses, Motley was riding with friends, loud music blasting from the car, when he had an exchange of words with Livingston, who demanded they turn it down. Witnesses told police Motley was not physically threatening and that he was not holding a weapon when Livingston pulled a gun and shot him in the chest.
Kroger, through a released statement, has emphasized that Livingston was not employed by the company, detailing that a third-party contractor, Allied Universal, provided security services at the Poplar Avenue Fuel Center. Allied Universal reportedly has cut ties with an unidentified subcontractor that the company has said hired Livingston.
In his statement released Monday, Crump referenced reports that “allege Livingston was denied his license on two separate occasions and his most recent application filed in early August was denied because he violated a statute for working as an armed guard without a registration card.”
If Livingston was denied his license and didn’t have one when he killed Motley, the question, said Crump, is “…why was he on Kroger premises with a firearm acting like he was qualified to do so, and seemingly, with Kroger’s blessing?
“There is no excuse for this oversight by Kroger and Allied Universal that led to Alvin Motley’s death. Livingston should have been fired immediately when he violated a statute by working with a weapon.”
Shelby County Attorney General Amy Weirich has recused the office from prosecuting the case, basing that decision on the fact that an investigator in her office, was also employed with Allied Security. On Monday it was learned that Glenn Funk, the appointed special prosecutor from Nashville, is a long-time friend of Livingston’s attorney.
After Monday’s hearing, Ballin, who is representing Livingston along with attorney Steve Farese, told reporters he and Funk have known each other “for more than 40 years.”
Memphis Branch NAACP President Van Turner Jr. expressed concern last week that a special prosecutor “would not have the feel for what this case means to us here.”
Ballin, however, dismissed any concern about the special prosecutor.
“I don’t see colors,” said Ballin. “Nashville is just as diverse as Shelby County, if not more.”
Regarding the role of loud music in the deadly encounter, Ballin said, “Do you really think this case is about loud music?”
Noting that there are witnesses who were recording on their cellphones, Ballin said, “We know they have video, but we are also hoping for audio of the events. It is important what was said. After speaking with my client, it is clear that the shooting was in self-defense and in the defense of customers. This goes way beyond loud music.
Motley, 48, was visiting from Chicago when Livingston killed him. On Wednesday (Aug. 18), Crump will provide remarks and a call to action regarding the case during a public memorial for Motley in Hillside, Illinois. The Rev. Al Sharpton, president/founder of the National Action Network (NAN), will deliver the eulogy.