A blogger who founded a “police accountability group” in 2010 is now being sued by a Virginia state trooper after he made defamatory statements about her online.
The heated encounter that Nathan Cox had with state trooper Melanie McKenney happened Memorial Day weekend in 2012, along Interstate 295, after he was pulled over for failing to display his front license plate.
The incident was recorded on Cox’s cellphone and the trooper’s dash cam. He later posted the exchange on YouTube and on his blog, “Virginia Cop Block.”
“It took him almost a mile before his vehicle pulled over and, of course, we’re always looking for things that may be unusual because you never know what you’re going to get during a traffic stop,” McKenney told FoxNews.com Monday.
Cox claims that the trooper molested him during the stop, while trying to grab his cellphone from him and patting him down. Later he made a statement that the molestation was not sexual in nature.
McKenney’s lawyer says false statements made by Cox on his blog constitute defamation. “You can look at the dash cam video and see that she did not assault him or molest him,” he told FoxNews.com. “If anything, she could have arrested him for causing problems.”
McKenney first filed her lawsuit in May 2013 in small claims court for $5,000. She then re-filed in March 2014 in circuit court for $1.35 million — an amount set by her attorney, according to Fox News.
The 12-year veteran of the Virginia State Police says she was simply doing her job. “It would be different if I was a rogue officer trampling on his rights; but this is not me,” McKenney said.
Cox and his blog are known to law enforcement in the area. The McKenney case is not the first time Cox has been caught in a legal dispute over his First Amendment rights.
He was awarded $10,000 in 2012 from the state of Virginia for an alleged illegal traffic stop. Cox says while driving in Richmond a year earlier, he saw a police officer on the side of the road next to another vehicle. He pulled out his megaphone and blasted, “Stop harassing people, we pay your paychecks.” The officer then got into his vehicle and pulled Cox over.