A tabloid known for posting mug shots from Richmond area arrests might soon have its own day in court.
A defamation lawsuit was filed recently against the current and former publishers of the weekly crime news publication Gotcha!, the City of Richmond and the city’s former police chief.
The suit was filed April 29 in Richmond Circuit Court by Dwaine G. Tolliver, who alleges that his appearance in Gotcha in April 2012 caused him harm. He demands a jury trial and damages of $250,000.
Tolliver’s suit makes its case against former Richmond police chief Bryan Norwood, World Media Enterprises, Media General and the City of Richmond.
Norwood was chief of the city’s police department when an article in the April 28, 2012, edition of Gotcha “accused Tolliver of being a recent arrestee charged with assault and battery,” the suit states.
The allegations in the article were false and defamatory, the suit claims. It claims that the city, through Norwood, provided false and defamatory information on Tolliver that was published “recklessly and maliciously.”
Media General is the Richmond-based media firm that until last summer owned Gotcha. It sold most of its newspaper operations, including Gotcha, to a subsidiary of Warren Buffett’s Berkshire Hathaway.
World Media Enterprises was the entity set up to hold Media General’s newspapers after the sale.
David Prince, a Richmond attorney representing Tolliver, said he hasn’t yet served the suit to the defendants. That should take place in the next 90 days, he said. He declined to comment until it is served.
Richmond City Attorney Allen Jackson said his office is aware of the suit but did not comment further on the case. Norwood resigned as chief of police in February.
Media General spokesperson Lou Anne Nabhan said the company does not comment on litigation matters.
World Media Enterprises is now part of Berkshire subsidiary BH Media Group. A message left for BH Media spokesman Larry King was not returned by press time.
Media General launched Gotcha in 2010. It is published under the Richmond Media Group, which also oversees the Richmond Times-Dispatch and other publications.
Gotcha’s circulation is 9,000, according to the Richmond Media Group’s website.
The publication makes money off the $1 cover price and advertising, which includes ads for bail bondsmen, personal injury lawyers, and detox clinics, among other services.
Last summer, it began home delivery to customers who also subscribe to the Times-Dispatch.