Kentucky man sues Netflix for using photo of him holding a hatchet in Hatchet Wielding Hitchhiker documentary

Taylor Hazlewood, 27, wants at least $1m in damages from the company over ‘The Hatchet Wielding Hitchhiker’

Graeme Massie
Los Angeles
Tuesday 18 April 2023 15:02 BST
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A Kentucky man has sued Netflix after the streaming giant used a photograph of him holding a hatchet in a true crime documentary.

Taylor Hazlewood, 27, wants at least $1m in damages from the company after they used one of his Instagram pictures as part of The Hatchet Wielding Hitchhiker show, according to The Washington Post.

Mr Hazlewood sued Netflix for defamation and misappropriating his likeness in a Texas court on 10 April. The lawsuit states that Mr Hazlewood, who works as a respiratory therapist in an intensive care unit, is not connected to the murder case in any way.

The 85-minute documentary was released on 10 January and tells the story of Caleb “Kai” McGillvary, a nomadic backpacker who went viral for a bizarre news interview he gave in 2013.

Mr Hazlewood’s lawsuit states that he quickly began getting messages from friends and family about his picture appearing in it.

“What is happening here?” one friend asked. “So something not so chill happens later in the documentary. Youre [sic] picture shows up again after hes [sic] charged with murder and its just bad vibes.” Another friend asked, “Bro wtf, are you in that?”

The suit claims that toward the end of the film, a voice asks “Is this a guardian angel or a stone-cold killer?” as Hazlewood’s photo is shown.

In the interview, Mr McGillvary told a California TV station how he had used an axe from his backpack to attack a man who had picked him up after the man had first crashed into a utility worker and then assaulted a woman.

Following the interview, Mr McGillvary gave a string of interviews and appearances, including on Jimmy Kimmel Live!

In May 2013, he was arrested for the murder of New Jersey lawyer, Joseph Galfy. He claimed self-defence in the killing but in 2019 was convicted of murder and sentenced to 57 years in prison.

“Hazlewood is, of course, beyond angry that Netflix would implicate and connect him to such a salacious and infamous story and individual,” the lawsuit states.

And it added: “Hazlewood’s reputation has clearly been tarnished. There are many acquaintances who will see Hazelwood’s photograph in the Film and will assume the worst without contacting Hazelwood to get the truth.”

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