Rollie Chance Jr. sued NBC Universal Media, Comcast, Meet the Press host Charles David Todd and correspondent Kelly O’Donnell in Arlington County Court.
In a separate complaint in D.C. Superior Court he sued CBS and its correspondent John Miller Jr. Both lawsuits were filed on Sept. 15.
Chance says he was sitting in his Stafford, Va. home on the morning of Sept. 16, 2013 when Aaron Alexis, a 34-year-old civilian contractor, snuck a sawed-off shotgun into Navy Yard Building 197 and opened fire.
After Alexis’ hour-long rampage that left 12 dead and more injured, he was shot to death by law enforcement.
Chance says he did not know Alexis, never spoke with him or met him, and had not been in Building 197 since 2012.
He says that neither federal or D.C. law enforcement officials identified him as the perpetrator, and that he met with FBI officials who also determined that he was not the shooter.
He says he told as much to ABC news personnel, which did not report that he was the shooter.
But NBC correspondents Todd and O’Donnell reported on their Twitter pages that he was the shooter, Chance claims.
“At approximately 12:56 p.m., Eastern Time, on September 16, 2013, even though law enforcement officials had determined that plaintiff was not and could not be the perpetrator, O’Donnell reported on her Twitter page, ‘Investigative Team/NBC reports shooter is ID’d as Rollie Chance,'” the complaint states.
The other complaint states: “At approximately 1:00 p.m., defendant Todd published a report from NBC I-Unit head to his Twitter page, claiming ‘[s]hooter identified as a Rollie Chance #NavyYardShooting.'”
Chance says NBC never called him before identifying him as the shooter.
He accuses CBS of the same gaffe.
“Inexcusably, just 80 minutes after publicly and falsely accusing an innocent individual of mass murder, defendants falsely reported that plaintiff had been arrested in Virginia just days before the Navy Yard Shooting after his last day at the Navy Yard,” Chance says of CBS.
“Defendants negligently published this falsity as fact and failed to verify its accuracy, while, ironically, attempting to justify their previous inaccurate reporting of the Navy Yard shooter’s identity. Defendant’s actions are not simply hallmarks of irresponsible journalism; their rush to publish unconfirmed, sensitive information demonstrates an unacceptable disregard for the subjects and lives affected by their false publications.”
Chance claims that his then-9-year-old daughter was yanked out of her class during the ordeal, leaving her emotionally damaged.
“As a direct and proximate result of defendants’ negligence, plaintiff has been diagnosed with post traumatic stress disorder … and is under continuous psychological and psychiatric care and will have to maintain this care for the foreseeable future,” the complaint states. “Plaintiff suffers sleep disturbance, nightmares, intrusive thoughts of his experience, inability to concentrate, memory problems, depression coupled with suicidal ideation, generalized dysphoria, and anhedonia (the inability to enjoy life).”
Chance wants $4.5 million for defamation, in each case. He is represented by Mark Cummings, with Sher, Cummings & Ellis, of Arlington, Va.
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