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Police Officer Sues WTMJ for Promo Showing Him Taking Money from Man at ATM

A Milwaukee police officer is suing WTMJ and Journal Broadcast Group saying the station promoted and aired a story that put him in a bad light even though the station knew he had done nothing wrong.

The lawsuit, filed by Officer Matthew Knight, says the Milwaukee NBC affiliate promoted and aired a story using surveillance footage showing Knight and what Milwaukee police say was a drunk Marine walking into a bank. The video shows the officer taking the man’s ATM card, punching in the man’s pin, withdrawing money, then counting the money out and leaving with the man.

The promo copy for the May sweeps story said, “It’s the video that has everyone talking. A Milwaukee police officer taking a man’s cash out of an ATM. Then walking off with that cash in hand. What’s really going on? The Milwaukee police department has some explaining to do.”

What the promo didn’t say was that police were called when a man broke a taxicab’s window.  The cabdriver said he would not press charges against the man if he paid $300 to repair the damage. The man and officer Knight went to the ATM where Knight helped the man withdraw the money and pay the cabbie.

While the promo didn’t say Knight had been cleared of any wrongdoing, the story did. Officer Knight had been cleared in an internal investigation two months before the story aired.

According to the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, Knight is suing for “defamation of professional reputation.”

TVSpy reported in May, the Milwaukee Police Chief called a press conference the morning the story was scheduled to air to complain about the promo. “People deserve to know the truth,” said Chief Ed Flynn. “And I have no confidence that that truth will be known watching this TV story’s coverage of its own sweeps story.”

TVSpy has reached out to Steve Wexler, WTMJ executive vice president of television and radio operations for comment.  We will update when we hear back.

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