A Salt Lake police officer has filed a $5 million libel suit against KTVX because he believes a story the station aired about a shooting last year has damaged his reputation, according to court documents.
Documents filed in 3rd District Court indicate David G. Madsen is suing United Television Inc., the Delaware-based owner of KTVX, and reporter John Harrington, charging statements made in stories broadcast after the Oct. 26, 1987, shooting of Clemente Garcia were false.Court records filed by Madsen say Harrington made untrue statements, including reporting that Madsen had a poor record with the police department, was in the process of being fired from the department and violated police department rules when he shot Garcia.
"(Madsen) has been cast into the public eye in a manner designed to hold him up to ridicule and debasement, and otherwise besmirched his good name and reputation," the lawsuit said.
Madsen was cleared Nov. 11 by the police department and the Salt Lake County attorney's office of any wrongdoing in the shooting, which occurred after Garcia led police on a chase that started at his home, 561 S. 13th East, and ended near Mountain Dell Reservoir. According to the findings of the department and county attorney's office, Madsen was justified in using deadly force against Garcia, who witnesses said pointed a handgun at Madsen.
The documents filed by Madsen say that standards that exempt the media from libel prosecution do not apply in this case. For example, they say Madsen is not a public person, the facts surrounding the incident are not privileged as they would be in court and KTVX has refused to air a retraction.
In addition, "(KTVX) purposely and intentionally disregarded the truth or falsity of the defamatory statements which they broadcast and that such willful conduct constitutes actual malice," court records say.
Madsen is seeking $2 million for damages caused to his reputation and $3 million because the stories have impacted his ability to perform his job and "safety and well-being."
KTVX executive producer Ken Connaughton said, "Our attorneys are handling it, and we stand by the story. I can't comment on it further."