Student Sues Sen. Perdue For Battery Over Phone-Snatching Incident

on February 1, 2018 in White Sulphur Springs, West Virginia.
Alex Wong/Getty Images North America

A Georgia Tech student, who recorded Sen. David Perdue (R-GA) snatching his cell phone out of his hand when he asked the senator a question about voter suppression, sued Perdue for battery on Monday.

The student, Georgia Tech junior Nathan Knauf, alleges that Perdue committed unlawful battery when “he seized Mr. Knauf’s phone, touching Mr. Knauf in the process of seizing the phone, while angrily declaring: ‘No, I’m not doing that — I’m not doing that,'” according to a copy of the complaint shared with TPM by Southern Majority, a consulting firm that supports progressive candidates in the South. A video that Knauf recorded of the encounter appears to corroborate Knauf’s claims.

Perdue’s office has maintained that the student originally asked the senator for a photo and Perdue took the phone in order to take a selfie.

“This is outrageous and completely frivolous,” a Perdue spokeswoman said in a statement to TPM. “It’s now abundantly clear that this is being politically orchestrated by Georgia Democrats. The Senator was simply asked to take a picture and went to take a selfie as he often does with hundreds of people. The Senator was also not ignoring their questions, in fact, he had just finished answering several students’ questions about climate change. Sadly, but not surprisingly, this is another attempt by liberal activists to distort the facts and distract the people of Georgia just weeks before an election.”

According to the complaint, Knauf wanted to ask Perdue about his support of Republican gubernatorial candidate and Georgia Secretary of State Brian Kemp and the widely reported allegations that Kemp has purposely tried to suppress the vote of thousands of primarily African-American voters. Perdue, a Trump loyalist who is stumping for Kemp, is not up for reelection until 2020.

“I was polite and respectful as I started to ask a question that is important to me and is, in fact, important to the health of our Democracy,” Knauf said in a statement. “Instead of answering in a civil and respectful way, Sen. Perdue ripped the phone out of my hands.”

Knauf is represented by Atlanta-based law firm Dreyer Sterling LLC, with lawyers David Dreyer, a Georgia Democratic state Representative and Michael Sterling, a former Atlanta mayoral candidate. Knauf has requested a trial by jury and damages of $10 or more. His attorney claims in a statement that via Georgia law, the “cell phone is an extension of the hand and Sen. Perdue committed battery when he touched the student’s hand and pulled the cell phone away from the student.”

Read the lawsuit below:

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