The city of Clearwater, Fla., will pay a newsman $125 to settle a defamation claim, reports the St. Petersburg Times. Mark Friedman, ex-executive producer at WFTS-Ch. 28, protested after a Clearwater police spokesman questioned his professionalism and ethics in a letter.
In 2002, Friedman began investigating a 25-year-old case involving a man who died in a car crash while fleeing Clearwater police. The family of the dead man believes he died after a beating by officers, not in the crash. Investigators have cleared police. Friedman made several requests for records on the case. After one of them, Clearwater police spokesman Wayne Shelor wrote to a Florida state agent that Friedman “isn’t being up front anyway, so I suspect his motives are less than honorable, and his professionalism is less than ethical.”
“The comment was beyond insulting,” said Friedman’s attorney, John Trevena. “Mark was just trying to do his job. All he did was make a public records request.” Trevena said it was a matter of principle. Friedman plans to frame the check rather than cash it.