Attorneys for one of the officers wounded in a lone gunman's deadly ambush on Baton Rouge law enforcement last July claim the national Black Lives Matter protest movement and five of its most prominent activists are to blame for the attack.
In a lawsuit filed Friday in Baton Rouge federal court, the attorneys allege DeRay Mckesson, Johnetta "Netta" Elzie, who have emerged as leaders of the Black Lives Matter movement, along with others "incited violence against police" and claim the activists' criticism of law enforcement led directly to 29-year-old Gavin Long's July 17 attack that left three Baton Rouge law enforcement officers dead.
The Black Lives Matter movement began around 2013 to protest the fatal shootings of black people, primarily by police.
The officer represented in the suit, who isn't named but whose injuries are described in detail, is East Baton Rouge sheriff's deputy Nick Tullier, who was permanently disabled after being shot three times in the July 17 attack and remains hospitalized.
Donna Grodner, one of the attorneys who filed the lawsuit, said she wasn't authorized to comment publicly on it. James Tullier, the deputy's father, didn't respond to a message Friday.
East Baton Rouge Sheriff's Deputy Brad Garafola had already wrapped up his extra-duty shift …
The 28-page lawsuit describes a number of protests over fatal police shootings in cities across the country — beginning with demonstrations over the 2014 death of Michael Brown in the St. Louis, Missouri, suburb of Ferguson — as violent and centrally organized "riots." Black Lives Matter activists, the suit alleges, "declared a virtual war on police."
The complaint lists dozens of protests tied to Black Lives Matter across the country while highlighting reports of violence or property damage — including several in Long's hometown of Kansas City, Missouri — but doesn't tie Long to the demonstrations. It also alleges that 11 officers have been killed and nine more wounded in shootings by "BLM protestors, activists and/or supporters."
Long's attack came less than two weeks after Alton Sterling, a 37-year-old black man, was fatally shot during a struggle with two white Baton Rouge policemen outside a North Foster Drive convenience store where he sold CDs and DVDs. The officers were responding to an anonymous 911 caller who said a man matching Sterling's description threatened him with a gun.
Sterling's controversial death on July 5, captured on two cellphone videos that were released publicly shortly afterward, sparked protests in Baton Rouge and across the country.
Roughly 190 people, including Mckesson, were arrested during demonstrations in the Capital City the following weekend. East Baton Rouge District Attorney Hillar Moore III declined to charge 98 of the arrested protesters, including Mckesson. Local law enforcement agencies and the city agreed to settle a lawsuit brought by Mckesson and other protesters over their arrests.
Without citing specific comments or quoting Mckesson or Elzie, Tullier's lawsuit claims the two activists came to Baton Rouge not only to protest but "to incite others to violence against police and other law enforcement officers."
Deputy Nick Tullier's fiance, Danielle Mcnicoll, posted a video Monday showing Tullier speak…
The lawsuit, which seeks at least $75,000 in damages, doesn't cite any direct connections between Long, the gunman, and Mckesson or the other activists named in the suit. But it accuses the Black Lives Matter activists of negligence and claims they're responsible for Long's attack because they "knew or should have known that violently mentally disturbed persons would be aroused by their call to violence and retribution to police for the deaths of black men."
Long's Sunday morning ambush killed three — Baton Rouge police officers Montrell Jackson and Matthew Gerald and East Baton Rouge Sheriff's deputy Brad Garafola — and left three others wounded.
Tullier, a father of two, was shot in the head, shoulder and stomach during the attack and nearly died. After months of intensive treatment at Our Lady of the Lake Medical Center, Tullier moved in November to a rehabilitation hospital in Houston, where doctors say he's regained very limited body movement and can respond to some questions by moving his head.
Long, who was killed by Baton Rouge police officers responding to the attack, left a lengthy trail of rambling online posts and videos that expressed growing rage over fatal shootings of black men by police. In a three-page handwritten suicide note left in his car, he wrote of an "unseen and concealed war with America's police force between Good cops and Bad cops."
An ex-Marine from Kansas City, Missouri, Long drove through the night to Dallas, Texas, just after a gunman there killed five police officers during what had been a peaceful demonstration downtown days after Sterling's death. A friend Long visited in Dallas told the Kansas City Star newspaper that Long obsessed over the videos of Sterling's death and appeared to praise the Dallas gunman.
Yet Long's note, online postings and videos also suggest a disdain for demonstrations. A lengthy investigation into Long's attack, led by Louisiana State Police detectives, uncovered nothing to suggest the gunman joined in any of the protests in Baton Rouge or elsewhere. Moore, the East Baton Rouge district attorney, said at a June 30 press conference, at which those findings were released, that Long "believes that protests are worthless and that action needs to be taken."
In a video Long recorded as he drove around north Baton Rouge in the days before the attack, the soon-to-be killer can be heard talking to people he meets about his dislike of "crackers," referencing Black Panther Party co-founder Huey Newton and rambling about his own idiosyncratic spiritual beliefs. But he tells those he encounters he's "not really into protesting."
Mckesson condemned Long's attack within hours, telling the New York Times that the Black Lives Matter movement "began as a call to end violence. That call remains." But the lawsuit calls such denunciations by Mckesson and other activists as coming "all but too late."
"Obviously, at this point talk show hosts were holding them responsible," the suit says, referring to the leaders of the movement, "and they were having to defend the blame and responsibility for what they had caused whether in whole or in part."
"This is quite a world," Mckesson told a reporter for the Associated Press on Friday when informed of Tullier's lawsuit. He declined to comment when contacted by The Advocate, saying he was still reviewing the lawsuit. Elzie and the other activists named in the suit couldn't be reached for comment.
Grodner, one of the attorneys representing Tullier, previously filed another lawsuit against Black Lives Matter and Mckesson that leveled similar accusations on behalf of an unnamed Baton Rouge policeman allegedly injured during the protests. Billy Gibbens, a New Orleans attorney representing Mckesson, asked a federal judge to toss out the suit, calling its allegations baseless speculation and arguing that Black Lives Matter is a loose social movement and not an organization that can be sued.
Grodner acknowledged during a March court hearing that it wasn't clear who threw a chunk of concrete at her client but, as in Friday's lawsuit, accused Mckesson of controlling the protesters and directing their actions.
The judge has not issued a decision yet on whether to dismiss that suit.
Mckesson arrived in Baton Rouge on July 8, several days after protests began, and streamed his arrest the next evening live on Twitter. He was booked into Parish Prison on a count of simple obstruction of a highway, a crime he disputes.
The July 9 protests near Baton Rouge police headquarters "turned into a riot" as Mckesson "incited violence," the lawsuit claims, and demonstrators, described as "members" of Black Lives Matter, "began to loot a Circle K" convenience store.
A Baton Rouge police spokesman said Friday that the agency received no reports of looting or theft at the shop.