Two sisters attending the 2006 wake of a Navy SEAL offered sworn statements filed Wednesday that could undermine former Minnesota Gov. Jesse Ventura’s claim that he was defamed in a popular book by another former Navy SEAL.
The sisters allege that one of them saw an unidentified man in a San Diego bar punch Ventura, and one sister said Ventura stated that the Navy SEAL “probably” deserved to die.
The documents contradict the core of Ventura’s suit, alleging he was neither punched nor made derogatory statements.
The sisters’ affidavits are among documents filed in response to a suit brought last year by Ventura, who claimed he was defamed in a book, “American Sniper.” It describes how a man, later identified as Ventura, was punched by the book’s author, Chris Kyle, after the man said the SEALs “deserve to lose a few.”
Kyle was killed seven years after the bar incident, in 2013.
Photo part of court case
John Borger and Leita Walker, attorneys for Taya Kyle, widow of Chris Kyle, offered the sisters’ statements as part of a memorandum asking U.S. District Judge Richard Kyle, who is no relation, to dismiss Ventura’s suit.
Also filed is a photo of Ventura with the two sisters and an unnamed friend, a photo that the sisters say was taken at the bar earlier the evening of the incident.
Ventura, a former professional wrestler who has spoken often about his years with the Navy SEALs, was governor of Minnesota from 1999 to 2003 and has more recently raised the possibility of running for president in 2016.
The sisters said that they had not met Ventura before the night at the bar.
Ventura’s attorneys will have an opportunity to submit a written rebuttal to the sisters’ claims and participate in oral arguments on Jan. 29 against Taya Kyle’s motion to dismiss Ventura’s claims before trial.
In her affidavit, Laura deShazo of Salt Lake City said she and her sister went to the memorial service for Michael Monsoor, a Navy SEAL who was a good friend of their family. After the memorial service, a small group adjourned to McP’s bar for the wake.
She said she recognized Ventura at the bar and she and her sister, Rosemary deShazo, had their photo taken with him.
“Later in the evening, hours after the picture was taken, I observed an altercation between Jesse Ventura and other persons at McP’s,” she wrote. “I did not hear how the altercation started. It did not last long. … During the altercation I saw Ventura punched by a white male, around 6 feet tall, with light brownish hair.”
‘Statement offended me’
She said she did not know Kyle and “cannot say for certain that Chris Kyle was the person who punched Ventura, but I definitely saw Ventura being punched …” Before his death Kyle gave a deposition, describing himself as 6 foot 2 inches. His hair color is not mentioned.
In a separate statement, Rosemary deShazo said that she became aware Ventura was at the bar, and she and her sister and a friend had their picture taken with him.
“During the short time that we were with him, Ventura asked why we were at McP’s,” Rosemary deShazo said in her statement. “We told him that we were at a wake for a fallen SEAL. Ventura then said, ‘He probably deserved it. They die all the time.’ ”
Rosemary deShazo added, “This statement offended me.” She made no mention of a punch being thrown.
Monsoor, who was being honored at the wake, was killed in Iraq on Sept. 29, 2006, when an insurgent threw a grenade at him and several other SEALs and Iraqi soldiers. Monsoor smothered the grenade with his body and he died, saving those who were with him. In 2008, then-President George W. Bush posthumously awarded him the Medal of Honor.