“I’ve already killed four people,” were the words of Gregory Livingston, the unlicensed security guard who killed Alvin Motley Jr. on Aug. 7, according to a prosecution witness during a probable-cause hearing on Tuesday morning.
Shedrick Weary, a prosecution eye-witness, said he took Livingston’s words as an attempt to threaten him and that their exchange came about 30 seconds before Livingston shot Motley dead at the Kroger fuel center at 6660 Poplar Ave.
Shelby County General Sessions Judge Louis J. Montesi Jr. took in Weary’s testimony as he heard arguments from both sides during an often dramatic, nearly four-hour hearing. He concluded that there was probable cause to put the matter before a grand jury.
Video footage – without audio – of the killing was presented by prosecutors. Alvin Motley Sr. wiped tears from his eyes at one point. Other family members left the courtroom at different times as portions of the graphic video were played during the questioning of witnesses.
“I heard the security guard telling Mr. Alvin to turn his music down,” said Weary. Livingston, then, according to Weary, added, “Nobody wants to hear that.”
Weary, a fuel center customer, said he told Livingston, “I want to hear it.”
“It was not loud rap music,” said Weary. “It was R&B, Keyshia Cole’s ‘Love’. After the argument de-escalated between Mr. Alvin and the security guard, I got in line to pay for my gas. The security guard walked up to me and said, ‘I’ve already killed four people.’ I felt he was threatening me. I said, ‘I don’t want to hear that.’”
When a prosecutor asked Weary how long after that before he heard a gunshot, Weary replied, “About 30 seconds.”
There was an audible, collective gasp in the courtroom.
Prosecutors – assistant district attorneys David Jones and Ronald Dowdy of Nashville – also played a 911 call by Livingston, who reported that a “black male” was being “combatant and aggressive.” On that call, Livingston, who worked for a third-party vendor, is heard to tell Motley, “Back up, back up.”
Prosecutors rolled back video footage to a point seconds before Livingston fired the fatal shot. Motley was seen walking toward Livingston with a cigarette in one hand and a can of beer in the other. Motley makes no aggressive motion toward the security officer. As he is walking, Livingston took a “shooting stance.” He then fires one shot, hitting Motley in the wrist and chest.
Sgt. LaTanya West, a Memphis police officer in the homicide unit, testified that Livingston claimed to have been a police officer in the past.
“As a trained police officer, Mr. Livingston should have known to make his gun the last resort,” said West. “We found a gun, three clips of ammunition, two knives and an asp. An asp is a baton that expands in length. A trained police officer would know that the gun is always your last option.”
Defense attorneys Steve Farese and Leslie Ballin did not present witnesses during the hearing but are anchoring their defense of Livingston on self-defense.
“If a person has told you to back up over and over,” said Ballin, “and you continue walking toward him, even though he has pulled a gun and taken a defense stand, then wouldn’t you think that person might be in fear for his life?”
Ballin buffeted his argument with references to Motley allegedly having told Livingston, “I’m going to kick you’re a**,” and “I’m going to f**k s**t up around here,” and that Motley got out of the car three times to confront Livingston.
Prosecutors boiled things down to this: “Livingston chose to be judge, jury and executioner. He shot Mr. Motley because he felt like it.”
It next will be up to a grand jury to decide if Livingston will be indicted on charges of second-degree murder or different charges.
“On that video, we saw no justifiable reason why deadly force should have been used,” said Montesi, before handing the case off to the grand jury and adjourning court.
Soon after, the Motley’s family attorney, national civil rights attorney Benjamin Crump, joined family members and friends of Motley at a press conference.
“We are just so grateful to District Attorney (Glenn) Funk and assistant district attorneys David Jones and Ronald Dowdy,” Crump said. “They said what the family has been saying all along. That it was an unnecessary, unjustifiable and heartless killing of a young man armed only with a can of beer and a cigarette.
“When you watch that video, you have to catch your breath and ask yourself did you see what you just saw.”
Motley Sr., along with other family members, denounced the crime also and called for justice to be done.
After seeing the video and going through this preliminary, I was heart-broken,” Motley Sr. said. “I didn’t hate the gentleman but I am outraged beyond all measure … My son shouldn’t have been shot. … It’s unbearable. I want him punished to the fullest extent. …
“Whatever years I have left on this earth, I want him to be locked away and think about what he did every single day just like I have to.”
Motley Jr., according to his father, was partially blind. The slain man had Mrfan syndrome, a disorder that hinders the production of connective tissue. The condition rendered Motley unable to drive.
Pia Foster, the driver of the car Motley was riding in, was also engaged in the dispute with Livingston.
“Leave us the f**k alone, leave us the f**k alone,” Foster was heard saying on a video captured on the phone of a witness.