Covington Catholic student seen in viral video sues WaPo for $250 million

The family of 16-year-old Nicholas Sandmann is suing the Washington Post in a defamation lawsuit and seeking $250 million in damages alleging that he was “targeted and bullied.”

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According to the Washington Post, the suit says that the paper "ignored basic journalist standards because it wanted to advance its well-known and easily documented, biased agenda against President Donald J. Trump by impugning individuals perceived to be supporters of the President."

The Kentucky student drew wide criticism on social media for a perceived confrontation with Nathan Phillips, a Native American, on a viral video that surfaced Jan 19.

Washington Post spokeswoman, Kristine Coratti Kelly, said, "We are reviewing a copy of the lawsuit, and we plan to mount a vigorous defense."

Both Sandmann and Phillips said they were trying to defuse tensions that were rising among three groups on a day Washington hosted both the March for Life and the Indigenous Peoples March. But video of Sandmann standing very close to Phillips, staring and at times smiling at him as Phillips sang and played a drum, gave many who watched it a different impression. Other students appeared to be laughing at the drummer, and at least one could be seen on video doing a tomahawk chop.

Both Phillips’ group and Sandmann’s, which had taken part in the anti-abortion rally, had been confronted by a third group that appeared to be affiliated with the Black Hebrew Israelite movement.

Other videos show members of the religious group yelling disparaging and profane insults at the students, who taunt them in return. Video also shows the Native Americans being insulted by the small religious group.

Though many commenting on the internet were taken back by Sandmann staring at Philipps, the teen said he was “not intentionally making faces at the protestor. I did smile at one point because I wanted him to know that I was not going to become angry, intimidated or be provoked into a larger confrontation.” He said he had never encountered any kind of public protest before.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.