Attorneys for former Minnesota governor Jesse Ventura have requested that a federal judge allow Ventura’s defamation case against the estate of Chris Kyle to proceed. In his memoir, American Sniper, Kyle, a former U.S. Navy Seal known as the most lethal sniper in history, recollected a 2006 confrontation with Ventura.
Kyle, upset by negative comments Ventura had made about President George W. Bush and the Iraq War, punched the former professional wrestler in the face. In American Sniper, Kyle identifies Ventura only as “Scruff Face,” a celebrity ex-SEAL who opposed the war in Iraq and believed that 9/11 was a conspiracy. In subsequent statements, Kyle made it clear that “Scruff Face” was indeed Ventura.
Ventura attorney David Bradley Olsen asserts that Ventura has the right to “protect and repair” his reputation, and that Kyle’s widow, Taya, will profit from the continued use of the story, including from a recently announced Steven Spielberg biopic of Kyle, in which Bradley Cooper is rumored to play the title role. Kyle’s estate has countered that the continuance of the case will “serve no useful purpose” and will cast Ventura as a man with little regard for the “surviving family members of deceased war heroes.”
Kyle is officially credited with 160 confirmed kills, as well as another 95 claimed but unconfirmed kills, the most in American military history. On February 2, 2013, Kyle and a friend were killed at a shooting range in Erath County, Texas. Marine veteran Eddie Ray Routh is being held in suspicion of the killings.