A man falsely included in several episodes of a Florida sheriff's popular "Wheel of Fugitive" social media game show is suing the sheriff for defamation, saying the experience cost him a job and affected his mental health. David Austin Gay was not a fugitive when his picture appeared in four episodes of the show between January and February 2021. Instead, he was either sitting in jail after turning himself in on a probation violation or, in one case, already legally released, USA Today reports. Gay was one of 60 'fugitives' Brevard County Sheriff Wayne Ivey featured on the wheel across 45 episodes between February 2020 and February 2021 who were either in jail at the time the episode aired, already free or had no active arrest warrant.
In a court filing an attorney for Gay argued he was fired from a new job after his boss saw an episode of the show featuring Gay's picture. Gay's attorney, Jessica Travis, argued in the filing the incident also harmed Gay's mental health, causing depression and anxiety, and damaged his reputation. "That has caused him to be regarded with scorn, contempt, ridicule, and disrespect which will continue in the foreseeable future," according to the complaint. Gay is seeking unspecified damages for loss of income and for pain and suffering. “The lawsuit was filed because right is right and wrong is wrong,” Travis said. "No one has the right to cause compliant citizens to lose their jobs or live in fear of confrontation or arrest; not even the Sheriff.”