Family reunion ends with riot call - WMC Action News 5 - Memphis, Tennessee

Family reunion ends with riot call

What should have been a celebration for more than 100 family members staying at a Midtown hotel, ended with chaos and a formal complaint against the police department.

They came from all over the country to see each other. But their celebration ended when police used mace among a crowd of about 50 people inside the hotel lobby.

Some of them, according to family members, small children and elderly women.

"It burns. My face now, it still burns...," said family member Sheila Davis. "I can't touch this part of my face because it still burns."

"I ran out. I started gagging. I started gagging. I just ran out," said family member Eula Love.

It all started with a dispute between family members and hotel staff.

The guests told Action News 5 that the hotel's rooms were too dirty for them to stay. They wanted to check out and get their money back.

Hotel Manager John Barrero said some of the family members physically abused the hotel's clerk. But the family said the clerk was the aggressor and that she hit a 13-year-old girl.

"I was taking up for my mom, telling her don't talk to her like that and she just reached across the counter and slapped me," said Jamie Love.

By all accounts, the hotel called police and reported a riot.

That call set the scene for what's now an internal investigation with the Memphis Police Department.

Police are commenting very little on this incident, because of that internal investigation.

They did tell Action News 5 only that the family did file a complaint against the officers involved.

Barrero said his staff was attacked - not the other way around.

He would not say whether the clerk hit the teenager.

The hotel has cameras near the front desk and there should be video of the incident, but Action News 5 was not allowed to see it.

The manager also declined to let Action News 5 into the rooms that the family members complained about.

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