Memphis woman’s violent police arrest draws outrage
Shelby County Commissioner Tami Sawyer not only questioned Gray’s arrest, but compared it to Sandra Bland's arrest
The arrest of a Memphis-area woman, seen on a viral video getting grabbed and tackled to the ground by officers, has left local leaders and many on social media demanding answers.
A motorist called police for help after seeing Kesha Gray, 29, being choked and punched by a man in an apparent domestic violence situation. The motorist, who thought Gray was being kidnapped, reportedly was able to scare the man off by brandishing a weapon.
However, when police arrived, Gray refused to give officers her name or provide them with details to fill out a complaint, according to FOX 13 Memphis. This doesn’t appear to violate Tennessee law. News reports say in Tennessee, police can’t force a person to identify themselves unless they are being accused of a particular crime.
When Gray attempted to walk away from Shelby County Sheriff’s deputies, the video shows she was grabbed by the arm, tackled to the ground and subsequently charged with resisting arrest.
Now Shelby County Commissioner Tami Sawyer is questioning Gray’s arrest and treatment by police. Sawyer told FOX 13 Memphis that from what she can see on the video, the arrest was not necessary. She is calling for an investigation.
“It took me back to the first time I saw Sandra Bland,” said Sawyer. “I think the force and languages used and the lack of care was extreme.”
Sawyer said police should have been able to deescalate the situation after seeing that Gray was clearly distraught, and should have taken particular care to keep their distance considering concerns about contracting or spreading the coronavirus.
In addition to resisting arrest, Gray was charged with assault, disorderly conduct and obstructing a highway, which are all misdemeanors. Sawyer is calling for all charges to be dropped.
Many on social media agreed.
“Before deputies encountered Kesha Gray, an eyewitness had already told them he saw her being choked and punched by a man outside a silver sedan. Yet it was Gray who ended up in jail,” tweeted Melonee Gaines.
Before deputies encountered Kesha Gray, an eyewitness had already told them he saw her being choked and punched by a man outside a silver sedan. Yet it was Gray who ended up in jail. https://t.co/cBXT9zYLD2
— Melonee Gaines (@Melohello) March 31, 2020
“If the police report and affidavit of complaint is accurate, then what the police knew about (Kesha) Gray is that she was a crime victim. Not a suspect,” wrote Rachel Louise Martin.
“If the police report and affidavit of complaint is accurate, then what the police knew about [Kesha] Gray is that she was a crime victim. Not a suspect.” https://t.co/dStQH52h0J
— Rachel Louise Martin (@R_LMartin) March 31, 2020
Shelby County Sheriff Floyd Bonner says he will launch a full investigation.