The Georgia cop who was fired last week after striking a fleeing man with his patrol car is looking into suing news outlets that reported on his termination, claiming they deliberately spread misinformation about him.
As if cops did not do that on a daily basis.
Word of the lawsuit, comes from the very pro-cop site, Blue Lives Matter, who interviewed the wife of Athens-Clarke County police officer Taylor Saulters.
They are saying that Saulters did not mean to strike the fleeing suspect.
Instead, Saulters struck Timmy Patmon because he lost control of his car after his tire went off its rim after striking a curb, a detail that was included in the department's original statement on the incident on its Facebook page.
But that little detail did not make it into several news articles, including ABC News and the Daily Mail, both which stated Saulters "deliberately" and "intentionally" used his car to strike the suspect.
According to Blue Lives Matter:
During the pursuit, one of the officer's tires came of the rim, making it difficult to control his car. The officer struck the suspect with his vehicle while attempting to pass him, resulting in bruises and scrapes to the suspect.
The officer had been with the department for under a year after spending years in the U.S. Army. He was still in probationary status, making it easy for him to be fired to appease the public.
Along with the news about the firing, the department said that Officer Saulters had unintentionally struck the fleeing felon while trying to accelerate past him.
The chief said that he believed that the driving was still negligent, which is why he says he fired the officer.
Despite the department announcing that the vehicle strike appeared unintentional, news sites have been reporting sensationalized headlines implying that the officer was attempting to murder the fleeing criminal.
The detail about the tire did not make our article either because we did not see evidence that tire damage was what caused Saulters to strike the suspect.
But we also never used the words deliberately or intentionally, although it certainly seemed intentional because we've seen numerous cops do that in the past.
We went with the headline below.
On the video, seconds after striking Patmon, Saulters tells another cop that, "I got him with my car, that's what they're yelling about," in reference to witnesses who began protesting about how they had hit him with their car.
Then, once Patmon is cuffed, he tells Saulters that he is in pain because he was struck by the patrol car.
"I know what I did," Saulters says. "Why'd you run?"
No mention of the tire, not that a cop would ever feel the need to justify their actions to a handcuffed citizen.
But even when talking to the other cops, Saulters never blames the collision on the tire, although he does later mention he will be unable to drive the car back to the station.
But he does manage to drive the car to a nearby police building, slowly but in complete control of the car, where he tells other officers he tried to cut the man off with his car, claiming he never struck him, but still not blaming the collision on the tire.
"I didn't hit him with the car, I blocked him with the car," he says, which suggests he had complete control of the car at that point.
Whatever his true intentions, he confirms he deliberately drove up on the sidewalk in an attempt to block the fleeing suspect, who had another cop running behind him.
And that is what caused the tire to go off the rim.
And the main reason why it is illegal to operate a motor vehicle on sidewalks is to protect pedestrians, so whether he planned to strike the suspect or merely block him, he displayed negligence by driving on the sidewalk.
However, we all know cops are allowed to break the law with the old "split second decision" excuse they like to use when they display out-of-control or overly aggressive behavior.
Besides ABC News and the Daily Mail, Blue Lives Matter is also taking issue with the Atlanta Journal-Constitution and WSB-TV for interviewing witnesses about the incident, who were outraged and told reporters the cop deliberately plowed the man down.
According to Blue Lives Matter:
Other sites with false headline include far left sites like The Root and Think Progress.
Officer Saulters' wife says that the false information being spread about the incident has made them unsafe.
"We are no longer safe or comfortable where we live," Lauren Saulters said.
She added that her family is facing baseless accusations of being racist after news outlets spread that Officer Saulters intentionally "mowed down" a black man.
Lauren said that they are absolutely ready to sue these news agencies for spreading misinformation.
So basically we're left with people threatening to file a lawsuit when they do not appear to have much knowledge about suing news agencies.
As of now, even low-level police officers are considered public figures, which means a plaintiff would have to prove actual malice in order to sue for defamation.
A law enforcement officer tried to challenge that notion in 2016 in the case of Armstrong vs Thompson by filing a petition for writ certiorari with the United States Supreme Court, asking the court to determine whether or not cops were public figures.
But the Supreme Court denied the cert, which means that cops are still public figures as had been determined by a lower court.
The Court of Appeals in Georgia also affirmed that police officers are public figures in the 2017 case of Ladner vs. New World Communications of Atlanta, Inc.
So it really does not look like Saulters has a defamation case because it will be very difficult to prove actual malice when news agencies were quoting witnesses who stated the cop deliberately ran the man over.
The fact that these news sites chose to believe the witness version of what took place over the police version does not prove actual malice.
It just shows a general distrust of the police version of events, which the cops have nobody to blame but themselves for their habit of spreading misinformation.
And let's not even talk about their habit of testilying in court, which would be considered perjury if done by anybody else.
Hell, this site would have died a long time ago if it weren't for the Police PR Spin Machine constantly churning out lies.
Normally, a cop who is fired would not worry about filing a lawsuit, preferring to focus on an appeal to regain their job back complete with backpay which has a high rate of success.
But Saulters was still on his probationary period, having been at the department less than a year, meaning he had not yet received tenure, which would have allowed him to deliberately and intentionally plow down citizens without worrying about getting fired.