Ex-NFL player drops hammer on ESPN, sues for $50 million - report


Former NFL cornerback Dimitri Patterson has filed a $50 million defamation lawsuit against ESPN, according to TMZ Sports.

In a story last August headlined “Dimitri Patterson in custody after courtroom escape attempt,” ESPN reported that Patterson had “injured two police officers while trying to abruptly exit a Miami-Dade courthouse and avoid being arrested.”

The article was written by Miami Dolphins beat writer James Walker, who has since left journalism. Patterson is a Miami native who played for the Dolphins in 2012 and 2013.

Walker reported that a “female officer suffered neck and back injuries, and a male officer injured his wrist” in the courtroom scuffle.

In Patterson’s lawsuit, which he filed acting as his own attorney, he says the ESPN report is “false and defamatory in its overall portrayal of DP as a violent, impulsive, unstable person,” according to TMZ.

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He says courtroom video footage backs up his claims.

Unfortunately for Patterson, the police report does not, according to TMZ. It describes him acting violently as he tried to leave the courtroom.

“The defendant ran towards the door of the courtroom to exit. While running towards the door, the defendant tackled officer B. Robert causing her to fall backwards and sustaining an injury to the back of her head,” the police report says.

Walker cited the police account in his reporting, which will make it difficult for Patterson to prove he was defamed.

He also faces other hurdles, notes the sports media site Awful Announcing:

Beyond that, as a former NFL player, there’s probably an argument that Patterson is a public figure and thus would have to prove actual malice on ESPN’s part (which would seemingly be quite difficult here), and he’d then have to prove damages (which would seemingly be tougher as an ex-athlete then as an active one). It’s also unclear where he’s getting that what looks like a just-the-facts article portrays him as “violent, impulsive and unstable.”

The Miami Herald‘s report of the courtroom incident was very similar to ESPN’s. The newspaper’s Charles Rabin and Carli Teproff wrote that Patterson “left two Miami-Dade police officers injured … after he bolted from a Miami-Dade courtroom when a judge ordered him placed under custody.”

The report quoted police spokesman Argemis Colome as saying Patterson “knocked down a female officer who hit her head. … She was taken to a nearby hospital and was later released. A male officer suffered a wrist injury.”

The Herald said it “was not clear why he was in court,” while ESPN said it was “due to a prior incident.”

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ESPN’s Rich Cimini reported in August 2015 that Patterson was arrested on a felony child abuse charge. According to police, his 1-year-old son was injured when he fought with his ex-girlfriend during a custody exchange at a shopping mall.

“Court records show he was acquitted by a jury for culpable negligence and battery,” The Herald reported.

In addition to the Dolphins, Patterson played for the Chiefs, Eagles, Browns and Jets before retiring in 2014.

He had nine career interceptions in 79 games.

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Todd Windsor is a senior story editor at The Western Journal. He has worked as an editor or reporter in news and sports for more than 30 years.
Todd Windsor is a senior story editor at The Western Journal. He was born in Baltimore and grew up in Maryland. He graduated from the University of Miami (he dreams of wearing the turnover chain) and has worked as an editor and reporter in news and sports for more than 30 years. Todd started at The Miami News (defunct) and went on to work at The News & Observer in Raleigh, N.C., the St. Petersburg (now Tampa Bay) Times, The Baltimore Sun and Space News before joining Liftable Media in 2016. He and his beautiful wife have two amazing daughters and a very old Beagle.
Bachelor of Science from the University of Miami
Phoenix, Arizona
Languages Spoken
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Politics, Media, Sports