The shooting death of an unarmed Black man in Tennessee by a security guard at a gas station is the latest instance of an apparently growing trend of deadly disputes over loud music in which the gunmen are seemingly disproportionately white.
Alvin Motley was gunned down Saturday night at a gas station at a Kroger’s in Memphis after when a security guard, Gregory Livingston, confronted the 48-year-old man to complain about the volume of the music from his car, according to the Memphis Commercial Appeal, which reported the narrative provided by police.
After Motley reportedly told Livingston he wanted to “talk like men,” the security guard pulled out his gun and shot Motley at point-blank range. Surveillance footage reportedly shows Motley was holding a beer can and a lit cigarette, suggesting he was not a threat to Livingston, who was obviously armed with a deadly weapon.
Livingston, 54, admitted to police that he shot and killed Motley and was on Sunday arrested and charged with second-degree murder and held on a $1.8 million bond.
There is already an apparent conflict of interest in the case that prompted Memphis’ top prosecutor to recuse herself after an investigator in her office admitted he also worked off-duty with the same security company that employed Livingston, the Associated Press reported. Shelby County District Attorney Amy Weirich is calling for a special prosecutor to take over the case. As of Friday, it was unclear if a special prosecutor had been named yet.
Motley’s family retained the services of civil rights attorney Ben Crump, who on Tuesday demanded justice for what he called a “murder” and decried the circumstances that have become all too common of a motivating factor initiating deadly violence.
“Yet again, another Black unarmed person was killed because he was profiled,” Crump said during a press conference in Memphis. “Because of the color of his skin. How many more times will we have to face these tragedies?”
Crump added: “I don’t care how loud you think it is, you do not have a right to kill a young Black man for playing music.”
Disputes over loud music are nothing new, and many times they do not end in death.
Remember last year when a Black family in Indiana got a racist letter from the “commnunity” about “loud music” played at a birthday party? Or when former NBA star Latrell Sprewell was arrested for playing loud music at his own home? And who could forget when gentrifers in Washington, D.C., tried to gain support for a city council bill called the “Amplified Noise Amendment Act of 2018” that would criminalize playing loud music with a jaiol sentence of up to 10 days?
At the end of the day, people are not being deterred from resorting to lethal force simply because they didn’t like how loud the music was being played. It’s an unfortunate trend that has been happening across the country.
Jordan Davis is perhaps the most widely cited example of “loud music” shootings.
The 17-year-old was robbed of his life in 2012 by a white man who said he felt “threatened” by the volume of the music being played in the car in which the teenager was a passenger. He was shot to death at a gas station in Jacksonville when 45-year-old Michael Dunn opened fire. Dunn was given a sentence of life in prison without parole and 90 years. Davis’ mother, Rep. Lucy McBath, famously went on to become a Congresswoman in Georgia who has made gun violence prevention a top priority.
On Nov. 23, a 47-year-old white man named Robert Paul Keegan fatally shot Aidan Ellison, a 19-year-old Black man, in the chest. Ellison was sitting in his car in a Stratford Inn parking lot in Ashland, Oregon. The two reportedly got into a confrontation about Ellison’s loud music around 4 a.m. that morning.
Keegan was arrested and pleaded not guilty to charges of second-degree murder, first-degree manslaughter, unlawful possession of a firearm, and reckless endangering on Nov. 27. Court records show Keegan claimed he was trying to defend himself, a claim that was contradicted by an autopsy. The criminal case is ongoing.
Just this past June in Atlanta, 39-year-old Corey Oliver was gunned down at his own birthday party in front of his friends and family — including his young children — after a neighbor responded with deadly force because he didn’t like how loud the music was.
Just last month in suburban Los Angeles, a man was shot to death by his neighbor over an argument about loud music at an apartment.
Onik Derhovansian, 66, shot Aduard Avetisyan, 35, “after coaxing him downstairs at a Valley Glen apartment complex” on July 17, the Los Angeles Daily News reported. Derhovansian was being held on a $2 bond.
In 2016, Shanika Minor was accused of arguing with Tamecca Perry, who was 9 months pregnant, about loud music one week before shooting her in Milwaukee. Minor went to Perry’s apartment with a gun early in the morning and got into a physical altercation before shooting Perry once in the chest. Both Perry and her unborn child died.Minor fled, was eventually added to the FBI’s list of Ten Most Wanted Fugitives before she was captured four months later in North Carolina.
Also last month, Clarence Torry Jr., a 40-year-old Chicago man, was shot and killed following several complaints about loud music. Torry “came to the front door of his apartment and began arguing with a person who shot him several times in the torso,” the Sun-Times reported.