Defamed Because of His Hoody, Man Claims

     NEW CITY, N.Y. (CN) – A news report on the theft of a donation jar meant to benefit the family of a dead toddler demonized an innocent bystander as the thief based on his hoody, the New York man claims in court.
     Taquan Price, a resident of Spring Valley, N.Y., filed the May 13 complaint in Rockland County Supreme Court against News 12 Hudson Valley and reporter Ty Milburn, claiming they substituted stereotypes for verification in a July 15, 2014, broadcast.
     On that day, Milburn appeared on the scene of a convenience store that had collected roughly $300 from locals for the funeral of 20-month-old Dominic Mero, who had been run over by a car outside his family’s apartment complex.
     While rolling tape of Price’s image, Milburn told viewers: “The owner of a Spring Valley deli said that this man here caught on store surveillance video is responsible for a, frankly, cold-hearted crime – that he allegedly swiped a jar full of donations meant for the family of a toddler struck and killed by a truck.”
     Price says the broadcast called attention to his gray hoody to “embellish” the impression that he was an “immoral, heartless, thug.”
     A representative for News 12 noted that the news organization has not received a copy of the complaint. “We stand by our reporting on this matter,” the spokesperson said in an email.
     While video of the broadcast did not appear available on News 12’s website Thursday, Price transcribes the segment in the nine-page complaint.
     “This is surveillance video of the man dressed in hoody with the logo ‘bad ass’ written on it who shopkeepers walked into the Guzman Deli Monday night and brazenly stole this donation full of cash,” Milburn allegedy reported.
     Price says Milbern showed more footage of him as he noted: “Neighbors say they are disgusted that somebody could be so heartless.”
     “I think it’s crazy,” one woman reacted in an on-the-street interview. “Why would you steal from a baby? Like they trying to help out.”
     Holding up a hammer, an elderly woman cried out for vengeance, according to the complaint.
     “I think they should be caught and put away,” she said. “Really. Unless they want me to get hold [of them] with this [hammer].”
     Price denies responsibility for the “heinous” crime.
     “In fact, another individual was arrested and charged with this crime a few days later,” the complaint states.
     By that time, the broadcast already had “incensed” Price’s community, according to the lawsuit.
     Price says he “suffered from severe emotional distress as a result of the false [report], including, but not limited to, fear for his safety, feelings of withdrawal, tarnished reputation, having others think of him in such negative light, and having such a bad impression of him, depression, sadness, sleeplessness.”
     “For period of time, plaintiff was afraid to leave his home,” the complaint continues.
     Price wants $10 million from Milburn, News 12 and Cablevision for three counts of defamation and emotional distress. He is represented by Bernard Weinreb in Spring Valley. The complaint’s cover sheet spells Price’s first name as Taquen.

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