Back in June, Tulsa Police Maj. Travis Yates – a sought after pundit, speaker and public figure in the authoritarian law enforcement scene – made a casually-cited statement in a radio interview claiming that cops are shooting Blacks not as often as they “probably ought to be.”
Here’s the full quote:
“If a certain group is committing more crimes, more violent crimes, and law enforcement’s having to come into more contact with them, that number is going to be higher. Who in the world in their right mind would think that our shootings should be right along the U.S. Census lines? That’s insanity. All of the research says we’re shooting African-Americans about 24% less than we probably ought to be, based on the crimes being committed.”
Yeah, that’s some great news for African Americans! The “research” says cops should technically be shooting people of color more often, so please be happy and content with the excessive levels of police abuse and brutality you’re more likely to experience in America than a white person.
As you probably know, the words that literally came out of Maj. Yate’s mouth quickly hit the web and then spread across the social media outrage channels. Before you could say “Tazer,” his own mayor and police department were calling into question his words, and The New York Times was publishing in-depth reports about them.
As a result, Major Yates has announced he’s suing a variety of media outlets for defamation for accurately reporting what he said. Here are the details via The Tulsa World:
A Tulsa police major has filed a lawsuit against various media organizations, claiming their reports about his comments on a local morning radio show were libelous, portrayed him in a false light and intentionally inflicted severe emotional distress.
Maj. Travis Yates, a 28-year veteran of the Tulsa Police Department, filed the lawsuit in Rogers County District Court.
Yates names Gannett Co. Inc. and its affiliate GateHouse Media Oklahoma Holdings Inc., Comcast Corp., Public Radio Tulsa and one of its employees as defendants in the lawsuit.
What the f-ck! Hayley covered this fiasco for us when it happened, but we didn’t even get the courtesy of a threatening email from his attorneys! Sure, that could be because we’ve successfully defended ourselves against every lawsuit filed against us, and in one high-profile case, even got reimbursed for our attorney’s fees, but still, that’s insulting. As I like to say, TLO is the Rodney Dangerfield of the local media scene – We can’t get any respect!
Anyway, this case feels more like a sad effort by Yates to save a little face and defend what’s left of his reputation in law enforcement than it does a legitimate lawsuit. Defamation is hard to prove, especially when you’re a public figure, and double-especially when you said the damn words that defamed you!
Here’s what Major Yates had to say about the lawsuit
“I realize I’m picking a fight with the biggest bullies on the block, but someone needs to stand up to media giants that pervert journalism into activism and destroy lives and reputations with impunity,” Yates said in a press release provided by one of his attorneys.
Hey, I know I’m not a thin-skinned cop who perverts laws enforcement into activism, but based on the number of innocent people who are physically assaulted, abused, tormented, and murdered by cops each year, I’d argue that journalists are, at best, the second biggest bullies on the block. Even that’s probably giving them too much credit.
You can read all about the lawsuit over at The Tulsa World.