Netflix Uses A Random Man’s Photo In Axe Murderer Documentary

Kentucky resident Taylor Hazlewood is suing Netflix for $1 million in damages for defamation and the misappropriation of his likeness in the true-crime documentary, “The Hatchet Wielding Hitchhiker.”

Hazlewood is pictured holding a friend’s hatchet in a photo he posted on Instagram in 2019 as a tribute to his favorite childhood book, “Hatchet.” 

According to the lawsuit filed in District Court in Dallas, Hazlewood has never been associated with a murder, let alone convicted of one, despite being portrayed as a “stone-cold killer” in the documentary.

“The Hatchet Wielding Hitchhiker” tells the story of Caleb “Kai” Lawrence McGillvary, who became an internet sensation after an interview with a local television station where he identified himself as “Kai the Hatchet Wielding Hitchhiker.” 

McGillvary was arrested three months later and charged with murdering a man in his home near Elizabeth, New Jersey. McGillvary claimed that he acted in self-defense after the man attempted to assault him, but he was convicted in 2019 and sentenced to 57 years in prison.

In the documentary images of Hazlewood and McGillvary are shown in one frame as the narration says “stone-cold killer,” with a text of a tweet that says, “You can never trust anyone.” 

A frame showing Hazlewood’s Instagram photo on the far right

“The use was not incidental,” according to the complaint. “Instead, it was Netflix’s employees’ negligently searching for images of people holding hatchets to support their narrative.”

Caleb “Kai” Lawrence McGillvary, the actual Hatchet Wielding Hitchhiker

“Mr. Hazelwood was never contacted, at all, by Netflix or any person involved with the making of the film, regarding the original context of his photograph or their planned use of his photograph,” Hazlewood’s lawyer Angela Buchanan said in a statement.

Buchanan adds that there should have been no confusion if Netflix had done its homework.

The lawsuit alleges that Netflix has caused Hazlewood reputational harm, stress, anxiety, and anguish, and put him in constant fear of losing future employment or relationships because people believe he is dangerous or untrustworthy.

Information for this story was found via the Washington Post, Variety, and the sources and companies mentioned. The author has no securities or affiliations related to the organizations discussed. Not a recommendation to buy or sell. Always do additional research and consult a professional before purchasing a security. The author holds no licenses.

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