DALLAS (CN) – A Dallas man claims in court that he was shot in retaliation after producers of the A&E true-crime show “The First 48” falsely portrayed him as a snitch who talked to homicide detectives about a murder.
Represented by Dallas attorney Don Tittle, the man sued the show’s production company Kirkstall Road Enterprises on Tuesday in Dallas County Court. A&E is not a party to the lawsuit. Courthouse News is not disclosing his client’s name due to the alleged death threats.
Tittle said his client was shot four times on Aug. 17 outside a barber shop after his statement was broadcast nationally.
The show follows police investigators during the critical first 48 hours after a murder. Dallas police had questioned the plaintiff about the murder of Donovan Reid, who they suspected of dealing drugs and believe was killed in a gang-related shooting.
“At no time did plaintiff give his consent to have his images, voice or likeness be used in any commercial way or in connection with a television show,” the complaint states. “Nonetheless, highly edited, misleading parts of plaintiff’s communication with Detective [Richard] Duggan became central to a soon to be aired episode of ‘The First 48.'”
The plaintiff said he was the only witness portrayed in the episode, though detectives interviewed several people. He said the show’s “clear inference” is that he is the confidential informant who called the detective to offer information.
“Plaintiff’s image and likeness was blurred in the program, however, his entire body was visible such that his size, height, skin color, clothing and mannerisms were visible to the viewer,” the complaint states. “Further, his voice was slightly altered, but still distinguishable. Plaintiff’s image and likeness was discernible to all who knew him.”
The plaintiff said that death threats began “within minutes” of the broadcast.
He denies that he came forward voluntarily to speak with police, and says his statements were “edited such that the meaning of what plaintiff told Duggan left a false impression with viewers.”
He spent 10 days in intensive care after being shot and required surgery: a metal rod inserted into his thigh.
Tittle said Wednesday that in the neighborhood where his client lived, being perceived as a snitch means death.
“He contacted DPD and he let them know that he was being threatened, but he really didn’t receive a great deal of protection,” Tittle told ABC-affiliate WFAA-TV.
“I think ultimately it was good TV and he was expendable, and that’s about all the concern they gave to it.”
Kirkstall Road Enterprises could not be reached for comment Wednesday evening. A phone call requesting comment from its New York-listed number was not answered.
The plaintiff seeks damages for negligence, pain and suffering, disfigurement and medical expenses.
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