AP NEWS

Officer sues blogger for names behind anonymous comments

January 2, 2020 GMT

HARTFORD, Conn. (AP) — A Connecticut police officer is suing a blogger for access to the names of people commenting anonymously on the blog who he believes are fellow officers.

The lawsuit filed by Hartford police Lt. Vincent Benvenuto against Kevin Brookman, author of the We The People Hartford blog, contends that department rules and regulations prohibit police officers from posting negative things about themselves or their colleagues on social media, the Hartford Courant reported Thursday.

The suit does not seek monetary damages, just the names of those posting anonymous comments.

“It’s a pre-suit discovery petition to try to determine what the source is or who the sources are of disparaging and defamatory comments made against Lt. Benvenuto,” said Patrick Tomasiewicz, Benvenuto’s attorney. If the names are released, lawsuits against the people commenting may be filed, Tomasiewicz said.

Brookman typically writes about city issues, including topics related to the police and fire departments, that often generate dozens of comments.

Brookman doesn’t allow defamatory comments to be posted, the department’s regulations do not apply to him, and his blog falls under the state shield law that protects news media from being compelled to disclose information it collects, his attorney Robert Killian Jr. wrote in a response to the lawsuit.

The Hartford Courant reached out to Killian, but he declined to comment.