An Atlanta lawyer nationally known for defamation litigation said he is working on potential lawsuits on behalf of the teen from a viral video with a Native American elder at a protest in Washington, D.C.
Atlanta attorney L. Lin Wood released a statement Friday saying he is representing Nick Sandmann, the Kentucky Catholic school student who was in Washington with his classmates and adult chaperones to participate in the March for Life rally Jan. 18.
The event in “turned into a personal nightmare when Nick became the focus of false and defamatory accusations published and broadcast across the nation and the world,” Wood said. The video showed the student—wearing a hat with President Donald Trump’s “make America great again” campaign slogan—standing almost face to face with the Native American beating a drum and chanting. Initial social media postings said the teen was mocking the older man and that other students were shouting “build that wall.”
But later reports and longer videos showed the students had been profanely jeered by a different group of protesters. Sandmann then gave interviews saying his classmates were responding with school cheers to drown out the other protesters, that he wasn’t trying to be disrespectful and that he never heard anyone say, “Build that wall.”
Wood said a “mob” of “activists, church and school officials, members of the mainstream print and broadcast media” and others on social media “rushed to condemn and vilify this young man by burying him in an avalanche of false accusations, false portrayals, and cyberbullying that have threatened his reputation and his physical safety.”
Wood said the 16-year-old “did absolutely nothing wrong or inappropriate in connection with the incident to deserve the heinous accusations made against him by uninformed or agenda-driven individuals and media entities.”
Wood became famous as a defamation lawyer in 1996 when he represented Richard Jewell, the security guard falsely accused of the Centennial Olympic Park bombing in Atlanta.
“In the coming weeks, we will be carefully reviewing all of the false accusations and threats made against Nick,” Wood said. “We fully expect that a multitude of civil lawsuits will be filed and aggressively pursued. We recognize that justice for Nick will not be achieved quickly, but we are dedicated to achieving it for this young man, regardless of time or expense.”
Wood made the statement with Kentucky trial lawyer Todd McMurtry of Hemmer DeFrank Wessels in Fort Mitchell, Kentucky.
“Nick and his family have experienced one of the worst sides of our present society. As their lawyers, we intend to exercise our best efforts as advocates to show Nick and his family another side of our society—that we are a society that survives and flourishes from the fact that it is based on the rule of law,” Wood said. “A system of justice that demands that truth prevail and the wrongdoers be held accountable for the harm they have inflicted on Nick and his family.”
Neither the family or the lawyers will engage in further media interviews, Wood said, but he invited anyone with helpful information to call or email his office.