Man Misidentified as Texas Mass Shooter Sues For Libel

tim pool steven crowder lawsuit


A man who was falsely accused of carrying out a deadly mass shooting in Allen, Texas has sued multiple prominent right-wing influencers and conservative media outlets for libel over their coverage of the massacre. 

According to HuffPost, which first reported the lawsuit, Mauricio Garcia — a 36-year old Texas resident — has accused Fox News, TelevisaUnivision, and Newsmax, along with influencers Tim Pool, Steven Crowder, and Infowars host Owen Shroyer among others, of having “recklessly disregarded basic journalistic safeguards and published the photo of an innocent man, branding him as a neo-Nazi murderer to his local community and the nation at large.”

In May last year, a gunman shot and killed eight shoppers at a mall in Allen, Texas. The alleged shooter, later identified as 33-year-old Mauricio Martinez Garcia, was a self-avowed neo-Nazi who espoused racist and violent rhetoric online for months before carrying out the massacre. 

As networks and online sleuths worked to identify the shooter, the lawsuit alleges that the defendants misidentified Garcia as Martinez Garcia for days, leading to harassment and death threats against an innocent man and his family. 

The lawsuit accuses Fox News of having used “an image of innocent 36-year-old Plaintiff Mauricio Garcia to portray the gunman,” in an article published on their website, and of having refused to retract the article after being notified of their mistake. Additionally, Newsmax is accused of having prominently displayed a misidentified photo of Garcia on multiple shows, and accusing him of being a member of the “Puro Tango Blast” prison gang. 

Garcia argues that conspiracy theories spread by the right-wing influencers named in the lawsuit further compounded the wrongful damage to his reputation. In the aftermath of the shooting, prominent conservatives promoted conspiracy theories that Martinez Garica’s extremist ties and the massacre itself were a  “psyop.” The lawsuit accuses Pool, Crowder, and Shroyer of wrongfully using his image in their discussion of the shooting — and in some instances linking him to their conspiracies. 

Garcia’s lawyers allege that Pool’s media outfit, Timcast Media Group Inc., published multiple articles on their website using Garcia’s image to portray the gunman. 

“Timcast Media Group also published an episode of Timcast IRL in which the thumbnail image  for the video used a photograph of the Plaintiff. This image was viewable not only to YouTube users who actually clicked on the video, but to any user who was served the video on their feeds or in a recommendation sidebar,” the filing says. 

In addition “in the following days, Pool continued to cast doubt on the event and tell his audience that the event was a psyop or staged government conspiracy. These allegations amplified the damage to Mr. Garcia.” 

The filing makes similar accusations against Crowder, whose website used a photo of Garcia in an article claiming that “the media refuses” to share photos of the killer. 

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It’s by no means the first time those affected by a mass shooting have sought accountability for reckless coverage of the mass shootings that now plague American life. In 2022, InfoWars founder Alex Jones was ordered to pay more than $1.4 billion in damages to the families of victims killed in the 2012 massacre at Sandy Hook Elementary School for his conspiratorial coverage of the shooting. The landmark case marked a drastic change in how third parties can respond to money-grubbing conspiracy-mongering by prominent media figures in the aftermath of tragedies. 

Garcia’s “only sin was to have the same name as the shooter,” read a translated message written by Garcia’s mother to Univision around the time of the shooting. Univision is also accused of having wrongly used Garcia’s image to identify the shooter in their televised coverage of the massacre. 



Source link: https://www.rollingstone.com/politics/politics-news/man-misidentified-texas-mass-shooter-sues-right-wing-influencers-1235003773/

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