Officers Says Dishonest Reporter Traded in Lies

     CLAYTON, Mo. (CN) – An “aggressively dishonest” television reporter intentionally broadcast false statements against a former police officer, the aggrieved onetime cop claims in a lawsuit.
     Steve Blakeney sued KTVI and Chris Hayes in St. Louis County Circuit Court on May 4.
     In the complaint, Blakeney is described as a decorated former Pine Lawn police officer who was terminated in December 2014.
     Blakeney claims that Hayes did a series of stories on him and that on Jan. 22, 2015, reported that arrest warrants were issued against Blakeney based on allegations by various women. Blakeney said he has never been charged or arrested for any such allegations.
     According to the complaint, Blakeney gave the reporter information so that the facts could be reported objectively in the newscasts, but Hayes never used it.
     For example, Blakeney claims, Hayes reported that Blakeney dropped out of the police academy and Hayes even stated, “How did Blakeney ever get to be an officer?”
     Blakeney says he told Hayes before that report that he voluntarily left one police academy and then enrolled in another, where he graduated at the top of his class.
     Hayes also falsely reported that Blakeney was using stolen license plates on his vehicle, the complaint says.
     Blakeney says he told Hayes before that report that the plates were turned over to Pine Lawn for use in unmarked police cars and that those specific plates were authorized to be on Blakeney’s unmarked city car at the time of the report.
     Blakeney claims Hayes has a history of twisting the truth in his reporting. The lawsuit claims that in a declassified email from the Director of Public Affairs for the Missouri National Guard on Feb. 20, 2015 stated: “This reporter is aggressively dishonest. [Hayes] didn’t even bother to address the major errors in his story.”
     Blakeney claims that at the time of Hayes’ reports, he was no longer an employee for Pine Lawn, and therefore he was a private figure. Even if he was a public figure, Blakeney contends that “Hayes acted with actual malice in his defamatory statement.”
     Blakeney seeks $1 million in damages for defamation. He is represented by Michael Brunton.
     KTVI/KPLR General Manager Spencer Koch told Courthouse News that the station had no comment.
     This is the second defamation lawsuit filed by Blakeney this year. On January 29, Blakeney sued Pine Lawn and its former city manager for making false statements about his termination. He is represented by Brunton in that lawsuit as well.

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