Diamond Reynolds, who filmed the bloody aftermath of her boyfriend Philando Castile‘s fatal shooting by a policeman in 2016, is suing the mayor of Elysian, Minnesota, for defamation after he authored a social media post Reynolds says attacked her character.
In 2017, Tom McBroom fired off a tweet claiming Reynolds, who’s Black, would spend the cash settlement she received after the deadly shooting on “crack cocaine.”
“She needs to come off County and State Aid now that she has some cash,” McBroom, a Rice County Sheriff’s sergeant at the time, tweeted, according to the Minnesota Star Tribune. “It’ll be gone in 6 months on crack cocaine.”
Reynolds lawsuit decries the remarks as “defamatory, false and racially motivated.”
“The Defendant was alleging that Plaintiff is an abuser of serious drugs, has an addiction that causes her financial stress, and is someone who bases her entire existence in terms of her costs of daily living on support from municipalities and other State of Minnesota entities,” the complaint reads.
Reynolds was sitting passenger side with her 4-year-old daughter in the back seat when Castile, who was driving, was shot and killed by then-St. Anthony police officer Jeronimo Yanez during a traffic stop. The beloved school cafeteria manager was retrieving his ID when Yanez opened fire.
The cop was later tried and acquitted of manslaughter in Castile’s death.
In November 2017, Reynolds would reach an $800,000 settlement with the city of St. Anthony, the city of Roseville and the League of Minnesota Cities Insurance Trust in connection to the fatal shooting, which was livestreamed on Facebook.
McBroom’s callous response to news of the settlement drew swift backlash on social media. When asked why he assumed Reynolds, who has no history of drug use, was a crack cocaine user, the ex-sergeant responded, “history,” the Star Tribune reported.
Court records show he was later demoted for “misconduct” that included the offensive tweet.
“His comments were not the beliefs of our agency, and we’re trying to move forward in a positive manner,” said Sheriff Troy Dunn. “I hope [the public] just trusts that we’re in this to do the right thing and that we are trying to provide great training and great people to do a job here.”
McBroom tried defending himself against the backlash, saying his comment was misinterpreted and had nothing to do with Reynold’s race. Rather, he claimed he was referring to the “history” he’s seen of people blow through their settlement money.
“I’ve seen them come to court. They’ve lost their children, but they come to court dressed to the nines with Michael Kors purses,” he told City Pages in a 2017 interview. “I see it time and time again and I just shake my head and say why wasn’t there anyone to help that person?”
Reynolds lawsuit argues that she suffered “pain, emotional distress and damage to her reputation,” as a result of McBroom’s tweet.
She’s seeking more than $50,000 in damages, in addition to attorney’s fees.