Just In: Sheriff Gets Sued By Florida Man For Recklessly Getting Too Much Spotlight In ‘Wheel Of Fugitive’

Photo by Willie J. Allen Jr. for The Washington Post via Getty Images

Disclaimer:  This article may contain the personal views and opinions of the author.

The “Wheel of Fugitive” is a mock game show and a play on the actual game show, “Wheel of Fortune.” The Brevard County Sheriff’s Office uses it to elicit help from the community to get fugitives off the street. 

A Florida man is suing the Brevard County Sheriff’s Office and Brevard County Sheriff Wayne Ivey after being featured on the video series a number of times. 

David Austin Gay, a 23-year-old Brevard County man, was featured on the show four times in 2021. What’s the problem? He technically wasn’t a fugitive. 

On the dates he was featured on the program, he was either in custody at the Brevard County Jail or had been released, according to the court filing dated January 25 of this year.  

The complainant is suing for damages in excess of $50,000 after being told not to bother to show up to a new job when the boss saw him on the show. 

Gay is suing Ivey and the BCSO on 12 counts, including defamation and intentional and reckless infliction of emotional distress.

He seeks “general and compensatory damages, loss of income, pain, and suffering and resulting psychological assessment and treatment, [and] attorneys’ fees, costs incurred in this action.”

Gay claims to have suffered from depression and anxiety and did not leave his home very often because he “feared that the public and/or police would stop, harass, verbally and physically threaten, or arrest him,” the lawsuit says. 

On the program, Sheriff Ivey says, “You know how it works: All ten people up here have warrants for their arrest. We want to get them off the street and safely behind bars where they can’t victimize anyone else.”

Ivey says that he gets approached all the time by fans of the program. He said, “They see the value of not only trying to get the fugitive off the street but engaging the community in doing so.”

According to CBS News: 

“Gay was involved in the court system for an undisclosed offense and was sentenced in November 2020 to three years of probation for a withhold of adjudication, a special sentence in which a defendant is not formally convicted of an offense, the lawsuit said.

“Gay was taken into custody for violation of probation in January 2021 after he had been arrested several weeks earlier on a misdemeanor domestic battery charge. He says he believed his father had gotten into a physical altercation with his mother, and the case was dismissed eventually.

“However, while Gay was in jail for the violation of probation arrest, Ivey said in a “Wheel of Fugitive” video that Gay was a fugitive, when in reality, he was already in the Brevard County Jail, according to the lawsuit.

“Gay was featured in three more episodes of “Wheel of Fugitive,” including on the day after he was sentenced to probation under the same terms that previously had been imposed and was released from custody, the lawsuit said.”

“Wheel of Fugitive” features a disclaimer that scrolls across the bottom of the screen. It reads in part, “The suspects may have since been arrested or their alleged charges otherwise resolved or dismissed.” 

Will this lessen Gay’s chances of winning his case? We shall see. 

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