A Shelby County judge has delayed until Tuesday (Sept. 7) a decision on whether to allow the public release of videos showing an altercation that led to the fatal shooting of Alvin Motley Jr. by a security guard at an East Memphis service station Aug. 7.
General Sessions Criminal Court Judge Louis J. Montesi Jr. granted defense attorney Leslie Ballin’s request for a temporary restraining order, preventing the release of the videos.
Montesi’s order predictably turned elation over the expected release of the videos into disappointment for Motley’s family and their supporters and attorneys.
Carl Adams, a cousin of Motley’s and a prominent figure in local protests at Kroger Stores over the shooting, said, “We are obviously very disappointed that the video will not be released on Friday. At the moment, my understanding is that we will wait and see what happens on Tuesday.”
Motley, 48, was fatally shot at the Kroger Fuel Center at 6660 Poplar Ave. near the Memphis-Germantown city limits.
The security guard Gregory Livingston, 54, is charged with second-degree murder. He allegedly shot Motley over loud music coming from the car in which Motley was a passenger. Livingston remains in Shelby County Jail on a $1.8 million bond.
Livingston did not have a license to work as an armed security guard in Tennessee, officials said.
Shelby County District Attorney General Amy Weirich requested a special prosecutor to handle the case because a criminal investigator in her office worked for the same security office as Livingston.
That prosecutor, Davidson County District Attorney General Glenn Funk, said his office had planned to release the video Friday (Sept. 3) to Motley’s family and the public.
During an Aug. 17 hearing, Ballin (Livingston’s attorney) opposed releasing videos of the shooting and sought a protective order asking the court to deny release.
There are at least three videos: the Kroger surveillance video and two that private citizens turned over to police.
National civil rights attorney Benjamin Crump is representing the Motley family.
“In the interest of transparency and truth, we are saying that the video should be released,” said Crump said during an Aug. 26 event. “They are going to argue that if the video is released, it will be hard to get an impartial jury. But we see videos of Black people committing crimes every day on the news, making us look like we’re all criminals. Nobody says anything about that.”
After Montesi’s temporary restraining order was announced, Crump issued a brief statement:
“The judge’s decision to delay the release of the video in this case is deeply upsetting to the family and the community. This video shows the cold, hard truth in this case: Another Black man was killed unjustifiably by a white man with too much power.
“Alvin wasn’t a threat and he wasn’t breaking a single law by sitting in the passenger seat of the car, listening to hip hop music. The facts of this case are clear as day. So, why is there so much effort being made to hide them? We demand justice and transparency for Alvin Motley and his family. We won’t rest until they’ve received the justice they deserve.”
Memphis Branch NAACP President Van Turner Jr. said the organization “remains committed to the fight for justice and transparency in this case. … We plan on seeing this case through until the end and will not stop until the video is released and the Motley family receives justice.”
According to documents filed Monday, Funk said the state “takes the position that it is appropriate to release the video to the public.”
The filing also said the move is “consistent with Funk’s belief that transparency helps to instill faith in our criminal justice system,” especially in cases “of great public interest.”
Funk arranged a private showing of the video to the Motley family prior to last week’s memorial service.
Adams, Motley’s cousin, said, “The family will be there on Tuesday in court. We will be coming down to show our support for releasing the video so everyone can see what happened. It is important to maintain transparency in the case.”