A Kentucky man is suing Netflix for exploiting his photograph in a murderous documentary without his consent.
A picture of Taylor Hazlewood holding a hatchet appears on the screen during the 2023 Netflix documentary The Hatchet Wielding Hitchhiker about Caleb McGillvary, a popular internet figure found guilty of murder in 2019.
The narrator asks, “Is this a guardian angel or a stone-cold killer?” On the screen is text that says, “You can never trust anyone.”
However, Hazlewood, a 27-year-old respiratory therapist in a newborn ICU, has no connection to McGillvary, and his lawsuit claims that Netflix utilized the image without his consent. Hazlewood shared a shot on Instagram in June 2019 that he had taken using his friend’s hatchet.
On January 20, a friend informed Hazlewood that they had noticed his image being used in the documentary, which had been made available on Netflix on January 12.
After that, more than 20 of Hazlewood’s friends and acquaintances got in touch with him over his appearance in the documentary, which, according to the lawsuit, led to “reputational harm, stress, anxiety, and anguish.”
In a statement to BuzzFeed News, Hazlewood’s attorney, Angela Buchanan, described her client as “a private and quiet man, was galvanized by his inclusion in the true-crime documentary The Hatchet Wielding Hitchhiker, which tells the salacious story of Caleb McGillvary’s rise to fame and subsequent first-degree murder conviction.”
She said Hazlewood “had no connection whatsoever to the people or events depicted in the film.” “Netflix, and the production companies upon which they rely, must be held accountable when they are negligent and cause this sort of reputational harm,” added Buchanan.
At least $1 million in damages are sought in the case. Netflix did not address the lawsuit. After his 2013 interview with KMPH News in Fresno, California, went viral, McGillvary earned the moniker “Kai the Hatchet-Waving Hitchhiker.”
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The news channel questioned him after using his hatchet to strike a man attempting to abuse a woman. As a result of the interview’s viral success, McGillvary appeared on Jimmy Kimmel Live!
But following his 15 seconds of fame, McGillvary was found guilty of killing Joseph Galfy Jr., a 73-year-old lawyer who died from blunt force injuries on May 13, 2013, at his home.
McGillvary claimed he killed Galfy out of self-defense when Galfy allegedly tried to rape him. The jury disagreed, and McGillvary was given a 57-year prison sentence.
McGillvary claimed that the Netflix documentary took advantage of him earlier this year. “So, Netflix is making a movie about my life story before I was arrested,” McGillvary said in a statement to the Tab.
“But they refuse to pay me anything for it… if someone made a movie about O.J. Simpson’s football career, you’d better believe he’d be making bank off it.
Guys who kill and rape women get money for their pre-arrest fame – but I saved women from being killed and allegedly killed a rapist, so Netflix is ruthlessly exploiting me. What the fuck?”
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