Dallas, TX – A former Dallas Area Rapid Transit (DART) officer who was wounded during a 2016 ambush in downtown Dallas is suing Twitter, Google, and Facebook for knowingly providing support to terrorist groups that inspired the attack.
Five Dallas officers were murdered and nine more were injured when 25-year-old sniper Micah Johnson opened fire on July 7, 2016.
Johnson, who was fatally blown up by police during the ensuing standoff, allegedly told his aunt that he wanted to “kill white people,” NBC News reported.
Former DART Officer Jesus Retana and his husband, Andrew Moss, filed the federal lawsuit on Wednesday, The Dallas Morning News reported.
Retana had been on the force for a decade when Johnson shot him in the left arm during the ambush.
According to the lawsuit, Google, Facebook, and Twitter have allowed the Palestinian terrorist group Hamas to use their platforms “as a tool for spreading extremist propaganda, raising funds, and attracting new recruits,” WFAA reported.
Johnson “was radicalized, in part, by Hamas’ use” of the platforms, the lawsuit alleged.
For example, Hamas has several Twitter accounts and boasts tens of thousands of followers, the Star-Telegram reported.
By allowing Hamas to utilize their platforms, the tech companies have “enabled [Hamas] to carry out numerous terrorist attacks and to incite others to carry out terrorist attacks, including” the ambush on Dallas police, the lawsuit said, according to WFAA.
Retana and Moss’ attorney, Keith Altman, has filed similar lawsuits against the companies for other terrorist attacks in the past, including the 2015 Islamic State attack in Paris, the Pulse nightclub shooting, and the San Bernardino mass shooting, The Dallas Morning News reported.
Those lawsuits were not successful.
Altman also represented Dallas Police Sergeant Demetrick Pennie’s lawsuit against the trio of tech companies, but a federal judge determined that they failed to “plausibly allege a connection between Hamas and the Dallas shooting,” The Dallas Morning News reported.
But Altman maintains that the companies are well aware that terrorists are using their platforms to recruit new members, spread propaganda, and raise money.
“They absolutely know that the terrorists are using their sites,” he added. “This is not the dark web.”
“Hamas’ ability to reach into the United States has been greatly enhanced… by using social media,” he told KTVT.
While Altman agreed that Johnson was not radicalized by Hamas directly, he noted that Johnson was affiliated with several entities designated as hate groups by the Southern Poverty Law Center, including the Black Riders Liberation Army, the Nation of Islam, and the New Black Panther Party, according to The Dallas Morning News.
Altman said that the tech companies must be held accountable for the content they allow terrorists to post on their platforms.
“I don’t care what group you are,” he explained. “It is not cool to call for the killing of police officers.”
The lawsuit asked the court to force the companies to “take reasonable action to prevent terrorists from using their sites,” according to the Star-Telegram.
“Right now, they are basically doing nothing,” Altman said of the tech companies.
Altman said that Renata is “just not the same person” since the ambush, KTVT reported.
“He has nightmares, sweats. It has a tremendous impact on his life and his husband’s,” the attorney explained. “They suffer every single day from what happened.”
The lawsuit seeks an unspecified amount in damages, but Altman said that what Retana and Moss really want is “no more funerals,” The Dallas Morning News reported.
“Nobody should lose a loved one, a friend, a family member because of a terrorist attack,” Altman said.
“This has nothing to do with freedom of speech,” he told the Star-Telegram. “The Anti-terrorism Act says you can’t help terrorists, and if you help them, you can be held accountable.”