The family of a nine-year-old Kansas City Chiefs fan has filed a defamation lawsuit against Deadspin.
In November, Deadspin writer Carron J. Phillips published an article attacking the child for wearing face paint and an Indian headdress at a football game.
The article was initially headlined, “The NFL needs to speak out against the Kansas City Chiefs fan in Black face, Native headdress,” and featured a photo of the child, but after massive amounts of backlash, it was changed to "The NFL Must Ban Native Headdress And Culturally Insensitive Face Paint in the Stands."
"It takes a lot to disrespect two groups of people at once. But on Sunday afternoon in Las Vegas, a Kansas City Chiefs fan found a way to hate Black people and the Native Americans at the same time," the article said of the elementary school student.
The article continued, "Despite their age, who taught that person that what they were wearing was appropriate?" New photo of the person @Deadspin accused of being a vile racist who wore blackface at a football game.
New photo of the person @Deadspin accused of being a vile racist who wore blackface at a football game.
— Bobby Burack (@burackbobby_) November 27, 2023
The child's parents, Raul and Shannon Armenta, filed a lawsuit on Monday, alleging that the outlet "maliciously and wantonly" attacked their son.
"By selectively capturing from the CBS broadcast an image of H.A. showing only the one side of his face with black paint on it — an effort that took laser-focused precision to accomplish given how quickly the boy appeared on screen: Phillips and Deadspin deliberately omitted the half of H.A.’s face with red paint on it," the lawsuit states, according to a report from Outkick.
"H.A. did not wear a costume headdress because he was ‘taught hate at home’—he wore it because he loves the Kansas City Chiefs’ football team and because he loves his Native American heritage," the complaint continued.
The lawsuit alleges that the viral smears have done "enormous damage" to the family.
"Death threats ("I’m going to kill [H.A.] with a wood chipper") and insults (calling H.A. a "p-ssy," a "mother f-cker," and a "n-gg-r"). They have made Raul a pariah at work, forcing the family to consider moving out of state. And they have branded a nine-year-old child with false allegations that will live forever online. H.A. has already suffered significantly—his test scores and grades have dropped in school, and he has shown emotional damage from the onslaught of negative attention."
The Outkick report noted, "Deadspin posted the article on Nov. 27, 2023. The outlet did not update the article and remove the deceptively edited photo until Dec. 7. That's 11 days in which an article smearing a minor with falsehoods remained on the internet."
Shockingly, the lawsuit claims that Deadspin threatened to sue the family.
"Deadspin’s lawyers threatened the Armenta family with counter-legal action should Raul and Shannon attempt to hold Phillips and Deadspin accountable for their false and defamatory Article."
The complaint states, "Deadspin did not retract the Article, and it did not apologize."
"Rather, it published a series of further ‘updates’ that not only failed to correct the record, but instead established that Deadspin fully understood the Article’s highly damaging and defamatory nature—while maliciously refusing to back down."