By Jesse Garza
Milwaukee Journal Sentinel
MILWAUKEE — A Milwaukee police officer shown on video taking money from a suspect in a promotion and news report by WTMJ-TV (Channel 4) is suing the station and its parent company, court records show.
The lawsuit filed Tuesday in Milwaukee County Circuit Court contends the station and Journal Broadcast Group Inc. implied misconduct and criminal activity by Police Officer Matthew Knight, even though staffers knew Knight had been cleared of any wrongdoing.
The surveillance video from Feb. 16 shows Knight with a man at an ATM machine entering the man's PIN number and obtaining cash from the man before the two walk away.
According to the lawsuit, several days later, a security guard who witnessed the transaction gave the video to Milwaukee police and Channel 4. On May 3, police gave the station a copy of an internal investigation that cleared Knight of any wrongdoing and explained what actually took place.
The lawsuit said police were called to an incident downtown in which a man smashed a taxi cab window. The taxi driver said he would not press charges against the man if he paid the driver $300 for the window.
After the ATM transaction, the man paid the driver, who signed Knight's memo book as proof of the payment.
A promotion that began running on the station May 4 ahead of the report by Channel 4 reporter Jermont Terry characterized it as the result of an "explosive I -Team investigation."
The promotion also said, "It's the video that will have everybody talking," the suit said.
The report, which aired May 6, stated that Knight was cleared of any wrongdoing.
The lawsuit says Knight served two tours of duty in Afghanistan.
It alleges the station defamed his professional reputation and demands a judgment amount to be determined by a jury.
The station did not immediately respond to a request for comment late Tuesday afternoon.
The station is owned by Journal Communications, which also owns the Journal Sentinel.
McClatchy-Tribune News Service
Copyright 2013 the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel