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Former Police Officer Sues Over Tower Sniper Movie

November 30, 1990

AUSTIN (AP) _ A former police officer who helped kill a sniper at the University of Texas in 1966 is suing to stop broadcast of a movie about the incident that he says portrays him as a coward.

In the lawsuit against Turner Broadcasting Systems Inc., Houston McCoy seeks $14 million for emotional distress and damage to his reputation.

McCoy, who lives in Menard in West Texas, filed the federal lawsuit Wednesday in Austin.

The lawsuit contends the 1975 movie, ″The Deadly Tower,″ has caused McCoy to become an alcoholic and lose self-respect.

McCoy claims the film depicts him as a coward, although he says he was commended for bravery after the sniper incident.

Turner Broadcasting did not immediately return a telephone call Thursday.

On Aug. 1, 1966, University of Texas student Charles Whitman climbed 27 floors to the top of the clock tower in the center of the campus and opened fire with a high-powered rifle.

Fourteen people were shot to death and 34 were wounded. Authorities also discovered the bodies of Whitman’s wife and mother in their Austin homes. Both had been slain by Whitman before the tower rampage.

Whitman was stopped when city police officers Ramiro Martinez and McCoy climbed to the top of the tower and shot him.

McCoy claimed in the lawsuit that he was portrayed as a coward to ″enhance the dramatic character of the movie’s hero (Martinez).″

Martinez, now a Texas Ranger, had no comment on McCoy’s lawsuit.

Martinez said he filed a lawsuit against the producers of the movie in 1975 ″because there was so much in the movie that was untruthful ... just fiction.″ That lawsuit was settled out of court, he said.

Turner Broadcasting showed the movie on television in August 1988, April 1989 and July 1990, McCoy said in his lawsuit. It aired again Tuesday on Turner’s station.

″Had (Turner Broadcasting) investigated the facts of the incident, it would have discovered that the movie contained factual inaccuracies,″ McCoy said.

The former officer said he is unable to see or hear about the movie ″without slipping into deep depression.″

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