Charlottesville car attack witness sues Alex Jones, others

FILE - In this April 17, 2017, file photo, "Infowars" host Alex Jones arrives at the Travis County Courthouse in Austin, Texas. Brennan Gilmore, a former State Department official who became the target of harassment after posting a video showing the car attack during a white nationalist rally in Charlottesville, is suing right-wing conspiracy theorist Alex Jones and others. Gilmore’s defamation lawsuit was filed Tuesday, March 13, 2018, in federal court in Charlottesville, Va. (Tamir Kalifa/Austin American-Statesman via AP, File)/Austin American-Statesman via AP)

RICHMOND, Va. — A former State Department official who became the target of harassment after posting a video showing the car attack during a white nationalist rally in Charlottesville sued right-wing conspiracy theorist Alex Jones and others Tuesday.

Brennan Gilmore, who attended the August rally as a counterprotester, witnessed the attack that killed Heather Heyer and injured dozens more. He posted a video to Twitter, which went viral, and was interviewed by national media outlets. Soon after, Jones, his website Infowars and the other defendants started spreading conspiracy theories about him, which led to threats against Gilmore and his family, the complaint alleged.

"Supporters of the alt-right and the 'Unite the Right rally,' including the defendants, created a new identity for Mr. Gilmore — the organizer and orchestrator of (accused driver James) Fields' attack and a traitor to the United States," the lawsuit said.

The defendants' lies about Gilmore "quickly mobilized their army of followers to launch a campaign of harassment and threats" that continue to this day, the lawsuit said.

Gilmore suffered from hate mail and death threats, hacking attempts and in-person harassment, the lawsuit said. Gilmore and his parents' known addresses were posted online, prompting local law enforcement to patrol his parents' home.

The lawsuit, which seeks a jury trial and damages to compensate Gilmore as well as punitive damages, was filed in federal court in Charlottesville. Georgetown Law's Civil Rights Clinic is representing Gilmore, who said in an interview with The Associated Press that he "absolutely" would not consider settling the suit and that any monetary damages are a secondary goal.

"There's no amount of money that would overcome the motivation of this case," which is to set a legal precedent to prevent the same thing from happening again, Gilmore said.

Gilmore said the defendants have spread misinformation time and again after high-profile tragedies, citing the recent Parkland, Florida, school shooting.

Infowars recently suggested that survivors of the shooting that left 17 people dead were coached on their pleas for gun control. Jones, who owns the site, has also called the 2012 massacre at Sandy Hook Elementary School a hoax and said the Sept. 11 attacks were an inside job.

The AP requested comment from Jones and received an emailed link to an approximately hour-long YouTube video of him addressing the suit. In the video, which included an extended scene from one of the "Lord of the Rings" movies, Jones called his detractors "cowards," ''slaves," and "little fallen twisted people looking for power."

The lawsuit, which alleges defamation and intentional infliction of emotion distress, also names six other individuals as defendants. Among them is former Florida congressman Allen B. West, who the lawsuit alleges published an article on his website with the headline, "BOMBSHELL: New Evidence Suggests Charlottesville Was a Complete SET-UP."

West didn't immediately respond to an inquiry from AP sent through his website.

Gilmore is a Virginia native who worked for years as a foreign service officer, a post from which he is currently on long-term unpaid leave, according to the lawsuit. Last year, he served as chief of staff for Virginia Democratic gubernatorial candidate Tom Perriello.

Charlottesville became a target for white nationalists after its city council voted to remove a statue of Confederate Gen. Robert E. Lee from a downtown park.

After several smaller rallies, hundreds of white nationalists and counter-protesters converged in downtown Charlottesville on Aug. 12. Fighting broke out before the event officially began, and the brawling went on for about an hour until an unlawful assembly was declared and the crowd was forced to disband.

Later, as counterdemonstrators were peacefully marching through downtown, the car barreled into the crowd. Heyer, 32, was killed.

Fields, the driver, faces charges including first-degree murder.

Must Read

TV executive predicts 500-show bubble destined to deflate

Aug 9, 2016

Television viewers know there's a mind-boggling array of shows to attempt to watch, but FX Networks chief executive John Landgraf predicts that change is coming

10 Things to Know for Thursday

Aug 11, 2016

Among 10 Things to Know: Criticism may be slowing Trump train; 'Grim Sleeper' sent to death row; versatile ESPN sportscaster dies at 61

If Trump can't get along with GOP, how will he govern?

Aug 9, 2016

Beyond the political fallout from Donald Trump's rocky relationship with party elders lies a fundamental reality: Should he win the presidency, the brash billionaire will have to work closely with the same GOP leaders he vilified on the campaign trail

People also read these

Hearing on Johnny Depp domestic violence allegations delayed

Aug 9, 2016

A judge is briefly delaying a restraining order hearing involving Johnny Depp and his estranged wife because it is expected to span several days; depositions of both actors set

TV executive predicts 500-show bubble destined to deflate

Aug 9, 2016

Television viewers know there's a mind-boggling array of shows to attempt to watch, but FX Networks chief executive John Landgraf predicts that change is coming

UN bungles response to Africa's yellow fever outbreak

Aug 5, 2016

An AP investigation finds that 1 million doses of yellow fever vaccines vanished in Angola as the World Health Organization's response lagged for months

Weather, 20 December
Houston Weather
+7

High: +11° Low: -2°

Humidity: 83%

Wind: NNE - 7 KPH

Canberra Weather
+27

High: +27° Low: +17°

Humidity: 87%

Wind: W - 20 KPH

Roissy-en-France Weather
+6

High: +6° Low: -5°

Humidity: 87%

Wind: ENE - 7 KPH

Florence Weather
+9

High: +9° Low: +6°

Humidity: 97%

Wind: ENE - 17 KPH

Parga Weather
+7

High: +16° Low: +4°

Humidity: 100%

Wind: SE - 25 KPH