7/8/2015Virginia Cop Sues Motorist Over Being Called Crazy
Virginia state trooper sues motorist for $1.35 million after being called crazy on YouTube.
There is nothing unusual about a motorist filing a million-dollar lawsuit against a police officer, especially as advances in video recording technology have made it easier to document abuse. Virginia State Trooper Melanie H. McKenney decided to turn the tables last month by filing a lawsuit against Nathan Cox, a driver who posted a video on the Internet calling her "crazy." Trooper McKenney is demanding $1,350,000 in compensation from Cox, who runs the Virginia CopBlock website.
"Our mission is simple, to hold public servants accountable and to bring about more transparency within the worlds of law enforcement and the judicial system," Cox writes.
Cox unexpectedly found himself in a position to do that as he was headed home from work on Interstate 295, just after 3pm on May 26, 2012 -- the start of the Memorial Day weekend. Cox noted that he passed three state troopers in a row writing tickets. The next one that he saw, Trooper McKenney, immediately hit her lights, anxious to ticket the 2008 Honda Civic Si driven by Cox for having an expired state inspection sticker. At the beginning of the traffic stop, Trooper McKenney ordered Cox out of his car, triggering the confrontation.
"Plaintiff was concerned for her safety as the defendant was holding an object (above her head at times) which could be used as a weapon," Trooper McKenney wrote in her lawsuit.
The object was not a gun or a knife. It was the cell phone that Cox was using to record the encounter. From the text message records obtained by Cox from the Virginia State Police, it was clear that the troopers were familiar with the CopBlock website. In their roadside messaging, McKenney and four other troopers expressed surprise that Cox readily signed the promise to appear for the citation. They also discussed how they all knew they were going to be featured in an online video, but Cox was troubled by other things the troopers said.
"Need to let the judge know about that guy," wrote Trooper McKenney. "Yeah I am gonna give you all the details, and he lives on the other side of 360 from me so you can bet that I will have no problem stopping him again if he doesn't correct it... every 24 hours he can get a ticket for it."
Another replied to that text, "You go girl."
Trooper McKenney now claims that her reputation has been damaged by the CopBlock website accounts of the traffic stop. Thanks to the publicity over the lawsuit, the dashcam video of the stop has been viewed over 600,000 times on YouTube.