By Holly Matkin and Sandy Malone
Kenosha, WI – Kyle Rittenhouse is planning to sue “10 to 15” separate “large defendants” for defamation, the newest member of his legal team confirmed on Tuesday morning.
Todd McMurtry, the attorney who represented Covington Catholic High School student Nick Sandmann in his $275 million defamation lawsuit against CNN, said he is now representing Rittenhouse, FOX News reported.
“I’ve been hired to head the effort to determine whom to sue, when to sue, where to sue,” McMurtry told the news outlet in a phone interview on Tuesday. “We’re going to look at everything that’s been said, determine which of those comments are legally actionable and proceed from there.”
Rittenhouse was charged with six felony offenses, including first-degree intentional homicide, first-degree reckless homicide and first-degree attempted intentional homicide, after he fired his AR-15 rifle to defend himself during the Kenosha riots on Aug. 25, 2020.
The teen’s attorneys have said the shootings occurred when he was in Kenosha to help clean graffiti off school buildings that had been vandalized during the anti-police riots when a friend asked him to help provide security for a car dealership.
Rittenhouse, then 17 years old, brought a medic kit and an AR-15 rifle that a friend had purchased for him with his stimulus check and told reporters on the scene he was there to help anybody who was hurt.
At one point, he left the car dealership to provide medical aid to a protester and then found himself blocked from returning to where his friends were.
His attorneys have said Rittenhouse was pursued through the streets of Kenosha and shot three people – killing two – in self-defense.
Rittenhouse faced a potential life sentence if he had been convicted of the most serious of the charges against him.
The jury deliberated for four days before rendering not guilty verdicts on all counts.
McMurtry said he is confident there will be “10 to 15 solid” defamation lawsuits filed on Rittenhouse’s behalf against “large defendants,” including Facebook and its CEO, Mark Zuckerberg, FOX News reported.
The attorney noted that Facebook labeled the Kenosha shootings as a “mass murder” on its platform, a designation that was “factually false.”
As a result, any positive comments about Rittenhouse were restricted by Facebook and his social media account was taken down by the company, FOX News reported.
“To call somebody a mass murderer is seriously defamatory,” McMurtry told FOX News. “And then to use the power of social media to basically…censor any views that would take opposition to that mass murderer statement is a serious effort to destroy his character. And it was seriously mistaken and seriously defamatory.”
It is unclear which other organizations or individuals Rittenhouse’s team intends to sue.
Rittenhouse said during an interview in February that the list could include “quite a few politicians, celebrities, [and] athletes,” FOX News reported.
“Whoopi Goldberg’s on the list,” he said at the time. “She called me a ‘murderer’ after I was acquitted by a jury of my peers. She went on to still say that.”
McMurtry said it will not be difficult to prove that Rittenhouse’s job prospects have been “permanently diminished” by those he intends to sue, FOX News reported.
“Not to mention what they call perpetual reputational harm, which means that Kyle is never going to have an interaction with anybody where they don’t know who he is,” he added. “This is going to follow him around for the rest of his life.”
“The social media hysteria caused all this because people can’t act reasonably and rationally in certain circumstances,” he told FOX News.
McMurtry, a Covington native, is described on his website as “a strong advocate for the underdog, an opponent of corrupt government, and a true believer in equality under the law.”
“To him, equality does not mean social justice; instead, it means everyone is treated fairly and gets a chance to succeed,” the website reads.
The attorney said Rittenhouse’s case shares some similarities with Sandmann’s – namely that they were both minors when the incidents occurred and that they were both “falsely wrongfully condemned by the media and social media,” FOX News reported.
Sandmann was accused of having antagonized an elderly Native American activist he encountered on a field trip to Washington, DC.
The outlets took video filmed by bystanders out of context and blamed the high school student in what became a national shaming.
But what actually happened was that a group of teenage boys from Covington Catholic were filmed doing school spirit chants as they waited for their bus to pick up their group at the Lincoln Memorial after the Right to Life march on Jan. 18, 2019.
A video was posted of an elderly man beating on a drum in the midst of the group of boys, and the poster alleged that the boys had surrounded the man in a threatening manner.
Social media went wild condemning the boys, many of whom were sporting Make America Great Again baseball caps.
Eventually, Sandmann outed himself as the teen in front of the group, smiling at the old man as he beat his drum and chanted.
“I never interacted with this protestor. I did not speak to him. I did not make any hand gestures or other aggressive moves. To be honest, I was startled and confused as to why he had approached me. We had already been yelled at by another group of protestors, and when the second group approached, I was worried that a situation was getting out of control where adults were attempting to provoke teenagers,” Sandmann said, according to NBC News.
Additional videos were released that showed the high school boys were being heckled by a group of Black Hebrew Israelites when the Native American man drummed his way into the middle of their group.
Black Hebrew Israelites are a Southern Poverty Law Center-designated black supremacist hate group who believe that they are the lost tribe of Israel and that other Jews are imposters.
Gunmen affiliated with that organization recently murdered a police officer and three innocent civilians in a targeted hate attack on Jews in Jersey City.
Despite a hate group being present and harassing children that day, the native man confronted the group of teens.
Many of the boys’ critics who had initially condemned Sandmann and his classmates walked back their harsh comments after seeing the full videos of what actually happened.
But a number of major news media organizations, including CNN and The Washington Post, refused to apologize for irreparably damaging the teen’s reputation and calling on followers to harm him.
Sandmann said last year he would encourage Rittenhouse to sue the media outlets that he believes defamed his character, FOX News reported.