After aggressive treatment by Virginia state trooper Melanie McKenney during a traffic stop for an expired State Inspection tag, Virginia Cop Block founder and U.S. Army veteran Nathan Cox posted the video of the encounter online.
Now McKenney is suing Cox for defamation.
The traffic stop happened on Memorial Day weekend in 2012, and provides a telling example of trooper McKenney’s relationship with the truth. As Cox was recording the traffic stop with his cell phone, McKenney repeatedly tried to grab the phone from Cox’s hand, stating “I don’t know what that is, it could be a gun.”
Let’s pause here for a moment to consider how unlikely it is that McKenney would do anything but draw her gun if she really thought Cox was pointing a gun at her. A moment earlier McKenney can be seen on camera saying “Put your…,” and stopping short instead of saying the words “phone down.”
In a lawsuit filed recently in Virginia small claims court, McKenney is now suing Cox for five thousand dollars over the truth of Cox’s online description of the event. (Oh, the irony). To win her defamation claim, McKenney must prove that Cox made false statements about her that diminished the respect or goodwill of others toward her. McKenney must also prove that Cox’s statement’s were made with actual malice – meaning with reckless disregard of the truth, or knowing the statements were false – because McKenney is a public official as a state trooper.
On the defendant side, if Cox can prove that McKenney filed the lawsuit in bad faith, he will be able to collect attorney’s fees. Cox is also reportedly countersuing, and may have a claim for malicious prosecution after trial.