ORLANDO (CN) - A Floridian claims Newt Gingrich's security detail assaulted him and broke his foot on primary election day, to force him away from a photo op as Newt and his wife Callista arrived.
Edward Dillard claims it's not the first time this season that Gingrich and his campaign used force, threats and violence to see that visual media show "an atmosphere of strong support for the presidential campaign of Newt Gingrich."
Dillard sued Newt Gingrich, Newt 2012 Inc. and Gingrich's security agency, Patriot Group International Inc., in Federal Court.
Dillard says that on Republican primary election day this year, Jan. 31, he went to his polling place at First Baptist Church of Windermere, in Orange County, Fla.
Dillard says he saw no signs for Ron Paul, so he decided to stay near the polling place, wearing his Ron Paul T-shirt and holding a Ron Paul sign.
"Unbeknownst to Dillard at the time he stationed himself at the perimeter, Newt,
Callista, and individuals working for Patriot Group, would soon be arriving at that polling place," the complaint states.
"When Newt and his entourage arrived at the polling place, much of the entourage, including Newt and Callista, headed toward a canopy, the inside of which had been set up with microphones, and greeted various persons in the area as they headed toward the canopy.
"Upon reaching the spot where Dillard was stationed, which was outside of the
canopy, Newt and Callista shook hands with Dillard. When Newt noticed Dillard's Ron Paul T-shirt, he immediately turned his back to Dillard, and he and Callista continued to occupy that spot for a round of handshaking and picture taking while Dillard resumed holding up his Ron Paul sign.
"At all material times, Dillard was wearing open-toed sandals.
"Noticing the awkward optics, several individual agents (of Patriot Group, Newt Gingrich, and Newt 2012) swarmed Dillard, trying to intimidate him into moving from the spot even though Dillard had been at that spot since prior to the arrival of the Gingrichs and their entourage. During this time, Dillard was threatened that if his sign made contact with either Newt or Callista, that he would have problems.
"One of the individual agents stepped in front of Dillard. When Dillard didn't budge, that individual lifted his heeled shoe over Dillard's right foot and dug the back of it into his skin, twisting it side-to-side like he was stomping out a cigarette, causing a fracture to Dillard's right foot.
"Dillard managed to snap a photograph of the agent who fractured his foot, just after which another of the individual agents knocked the phone out of Dillard's hand, and when Dillard attempted to pick it up with his feet by removing his sandals, a Gingrich supporter, upon information and belief another agent, kicked the sandal away and also kicked Dillard.
"Soon, other agents of Patriot Group, Newt Gingrich, and Newt 2012 approached, shoving their shoulders and chests and other parts of their bodies in front of Dillard. The individual who fractured Dillard's foot stated, 'Just block him!' and 'Everyone step on his toes!' Meanwhile, several persons in the area held signs in support of Newt Gingrich and were not assaulted, attacked, or otherwise harassed or threatened by agents of Patriot Group, Newt Gingrich, or Newt 2012.
"As the Gingrichs pulled away following the attack, several persons acting as agents for Patriot Group, Newt Gingrich, and Newt 2012 grilled Dillard, one stating to Dillard, 'If we did this to you, you guys would be furious.' One agent stated to the effect of, 'if we crashed your event, you would be furious,' and other similar statements were made demonstrating that the agents were acting to serve Newt Gingrich and Newt 2012.
"The attack on plaintiff was not an isolated instance of violence perpetrated by Newt 2012 and Patriot Group during the presidential campaign. On January 9 of this year, activist Adam Kokesh was physically accosted by an agent of Patriot Group, Newt Gingrich, and Newt 2012 in New Hampshire. On or about January 24, Newt 2012's Broward County Co-Chair Karin Hoffman physically accosted a heckler, and then attacked a person who had videotaped the scene and struck the video camera.
"Upon information and belief, Patriot Group and Newt 2012 have conspired on the mission of projecting toward to the general public through the visual media an atmosphere of strong support for the presidential campaign of Newt Gingrich. That strategy includes the intentional use of force, threats to use force, and destruction of property in furtherance of the mission, including the violence committed against plaintiff described herein, as the attempted destruction of his phone, and kicking of his sandal."
Dillard seeks punitive damages for assault and battery, vicarious liability, intentional infliction of emotional distress, and negligence.
He is represented by Andrew Spark of Tampa.
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