Grand Theft Auto // Strickland Vs. Sony

Box cover art for Grand Theft Auto: Vice City(2002)

Grand Theft Auto: Vice City is an action adventure open world game developed by Rockstar North and published by Rockstar Games released in 2002 for Sony PlayStation 2 and in 2003 for PC. It is the sixth entry in the much acclaimed, popular and controversial Grand Theft Auto series. The game is set in the 1980s Miami esque city known as Vice City featuring the protagonist Tommy Vercetti and his underworld driven adventures.

Upon release, the game received critical acclaim, with praise particularly directed at its music, gameplay and open world design. However, the game also generated controversy, with criticism directed at the depiction of violence and racial groups. The game sparked lawsuits and protests while being labelled as violent and explicit. Vice City became the best-selling video game of 2002 and has sold over 17.5 million copies.

In 2005, attorney Jack Thompson filed a lawsuit against Sony Corporation of America for the wrongful deaths of police officers Arnold Strickland and James Crump and dispatcher Leslie Mealer. Devin Moore shot and killed all three victims after grabbing an officer's gun while being detained for car theft. Thompson claimed that Grand Theft Auto: Vice City was to blame for the deaths because Moore was trying to recreate scenes from the controversial video game.


 Devin Moore was convicted in 2005 for the 2003 shooting of 2 police officers and a dispatcher as he was being detained for allegedly stealing a car. He grabbed one officer's .45 caliber pistol and killed all three before fleeing the station in a police cruiser he stole from the station. He was eventually caught and sentenced to death by lethal injection. On August 12, 2005 Thompson officially filed Strickland vs. Sony. The third victim's family later joined the lawsuit.

On Tuesday, November 1, 2005, Thompson sent an email to various websites commenting on the opening day of the civil trial. In it, he compared Sony and Take-Two Interactive's sale of the Grand Theft Auto video game to Imperial Japan's attack on Pearl Harbor during World War II. According to Thompson, certain regional governments in Japan had prevented the sale of the Grand Theft Auto games to minors, though Sony continued to sell the game where its sale was not restricted in Japan and abroad (Microsoft is doing the same for its own video game console). Thompson also compared the distribution of violent games to the distribution of pornography

The Alabama Supreme Court dismissed the lawsuit under Sony and Rockstar’s First Amendment rights.


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