Take Two, the publisher of the Grand Theft Auto game series, is once again facing yet another frivolous a lawsuit that alleges its software was complicit in murder. The legal action was filed on behalf of the families of police force staff shot dead in Fayette, Alabama in 2003, allegedly by one Devin Thompson. Thompson was apprehended on suspicion of driving a stolen car. The lawsuit maintains that Thompson’s actions that day were inspired by the GTA series, games he is claimed to have played obsessively. The games amount to “training” for the alleged killings. The lawsuit claims the video game “Grand Theft Auto” led a Thompson to shoot two police officers, Arnold Strickland and James Crump, and a dispatcher, Leslie Mealer, to death in 2003, mirroring violent acts depicted in the popular game. Thompson is accused of killing the three men in June 2003 after being brought to the Fayette police station on suspicion of driving a stolen car. Thompson allegedly grabbed one of the officer’s guns, shot him and the other two, then fled in a patrol car. “What has happened in Alabama is that four companies participated in the training of Devin … to kill three men,” attorney Jack Thompson told The Tuscaloosa News, which reported the suit’s filing.
Thompson is now 18 years old, but at the time of the shootings he was 16. As such, the lawsuit claims, he should not have been sold GTA III and GTA: Vice City, which carry an M rating – for ‘mature audience only’, ie. anyone 17 years old or more. On that basis, the plaintiffs requested that the book also be thrown at retailers Wal-Mart and Gamestop for allegedly allowing Thompson to buy the games. It also names Sony, as manufacturer of the PlayStation 2 console on which Thompson is said to have played the games. This isn’t the first time GTA has got its publisher and retail partners in trouble. At least two lawsuits relating to the game are currently pending against Take Two and, separately, BestBuy. The lawsuit was announced in the same week that the US Interactive Entertainment Merchants Association (IEMA) publicly criticized the California legislature’s attempt to ban the sale of violent games to children.