Family of murdered confidential informant suing LCSO

By: Julie Montanaro | WCTV Eyewitness News
January 10, 2019

The crime scene at the Leon Arms Apartments where Mary Lee Gray was found shot inside her vehicle. January 9, 2017.

TALLAHASSEE, Fla. (WCTV) -- An attorney for the family of Mary Lee Gray says the Leon County Sheriff's Office ignored the law and its own policies when it opted to use her as a confidential informant.

A civil lawsuit filed by Gray's husband, Bennie Jack Gray, says Mary Lee Gray was mentally ill and abusing drugs and LCSO has a string of incident reports that prove they knew it.

The negligence suit claims Gray went to LCSO in November 2016 with a list of drug dealers in hopes of getting help and instead LCSO turned her into a confidential informant.

"She was executed because she was a confidential informant for the Leon County Sheriff's Office," family attorney Jackie Fulford said.

The suit contends LCSO used Gray for at least six drug transactions including one just four days before she was killed.

"You can't say she's not on a controlled buy right this moment, we're going to turn the lights out and go home. We have no responsibility," family attorney Jackie Fulford said. "They put her there in the first place. But, for working for the Leon County Sheriff's Office, but for people finding out that's what she was doing, she would not have been killed."

Attorneys Jackie Fulford and Lance Block are representing the Gray family.

Block also represented the family of Rachel Hoffman. She was killed while working as a confidential informant for the Tallahassee Police Department in 2008.

The suit claims LCSO violated Rachel's Law, which was enacted to protect confidential informants in the wake of Hoffman's death.

The Leon County Sheriff's Office says it cannot confirm whether Gray served as a confidential informant and cannot comment on the lawsuit.

"We haven't received the summons for this lawsuit. We do not generally comment on pending litigation," LCSO Spokesman David Teems said.


By: WCTV Eyewitness News
January 10, 2019

TALLAHASSEE, Fla. (WCTV) -- The family of a murdered Tallahassee woman has filed a lawsuit against the Leon County Sheriff's Office, alleging that her role as a confidential informant led to her death.

40-year-old Mary Lee Gray was shot and killed during a drug deal at the Leon Arms Apartments on Holton Street in January 2017.

Following an investigation, Tallahassee Police charged Rickey Stevens for Gray's murder. He was later found guilty of manslaughter and sentenced to 52 years in prison.

In a lawsuit filed by Gray's family on Tuesday, Gray's family contends that she was killed out of retaliation after her status as a confidential informant for LCSO became known to dangerous drug dealers.

The lawsuit alleges that the sheriff's office was negligent in assessing Gray's suitability to work as an informant, stating that LCSO knew Gray was "mentally unstable and emotionally unfit to serve as a confidential informant."

The suit also cites Rachel's Law, which was passed following the 2008 death of 23-year-old Rachel Hoffman, a Florida State University grad who was killed while working as a confidential informant for TPD.

The lawsuit says, "Due to the nature of the activities that the LCSO directed Mary Lee Gray to perform, the LCSO placed her within a zone of risk, created and permitted dangers to exist, and subjected her to a heightened risk of harm."

The suit goes on to say, "The Defendant breached its duty of care to Mary Lee Gray by having her perform an excessive number of undercover operations in a very short period of time, increasing the likelihood of suspicion of her cooperation with law enforcement, compromising her confidentiality, and unreasonably exposing her to the danger of retaliation for her cooperation with law enforcement."

The lawsuit is seeking a trial by jury and damages in excess of $15,000.

We have reached out to the Leon County Sheriff's Office for comment on the lawsuit. A spokesperson says they have not yet received the summons for the suit, but they do not generally comment on pending litigation.



 
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