An up-and-coming Philadelphia rapper has filed a civil rights complaint against the City
of Philadelphia and two municipal police officers over claims that he was unlawfully imprisoned and had pictures take of him by the officers, which were subsequently posted to social networking websites, while he was held in police custody.
Robert Williams, who goes by the stage name Meek Mill, a 25-year-old rising rap star who resides in North Philadelphia, filed suit Jan. 14 against the City of Philadelphia and Police Officers Andre Boyer and Michael Vargas.
The suit was filed at the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Pennsylvania by Philadelphia attorneys Dennis Cogan and Anthony J. Petrone.
The complaint states that the defendant police officers pulled over a Range Rover SUV driven by Williams on Oct. 31 of last year in the area of 11th Street and Girard Avenue in Philadelphia.
The suit claims the vehicle stop was done without cause or justification.
Williams was subsequently handcuffed and transported to the 22nd Police District, where the officers took photographs of Williams, images that subsequently posted to Instagram and other social media sites.
The images depicted Williams in police custody, where he was allegedly held against his will for nine hours before his Nov. 2, 2012, release, the lawsuit states.
Williams was never charged with any criminal activity, the lawsuit claims, and the ordeal caused the plaintiff to miss a scheduled promotional appearance in Atlanta.
“Contrary to well established and accepted police standards and practices, defendants Boyer and Vargas, intentionally, recklessly and/or with deliberate indifference, caused plaintiff to undergo an unlawful seizure and detention by, among other things, following an unconstitutional stop, frisk and detention practice implemented by the high command within the Philadelphia Police Department,” the complaint states.
As a result of the officers’ actions, the suit states, Williams was forced to forfeit his deposit for the private jet that was booked to fly him on Oct. 31, 2012, to a promotional appearance in Atlanta, Williams was caused to refund a personal appearance fee, he lost numerous sponsorship deals and endorsements, and he experienced anxiety and embarrassment.
The lawsuit accuses the defendants of violating Williams’ civil rights. It also contains state law claims of false imprisonment, invasion of privacy and civil conspiracy.
Williams seeks unspecified compensatory and punitive damages.
Late last year, Williams made headlines after a Philadelphia Common Pleas Court judge ruled that the rapper was not allowed to travel outside of the city for a 30-day period because of probation violations.
The Philadelphia Inquirer reported in mid-December that Williams, 25, has been on probation since 2009, when he was paroled after spending a half-year or so in jail on a 2008 drug-dealing and gun possession conviction.
The Philadelphia judge’s ruling in December meant Williams would miss a concert in St. Thomas, which is located in the U.S. Virgin Islands.
Williams could have technically been sent to between five and 10 years in state prison for the parole violations.
The newspaper stated that Williams would be allowed to resume his travel outside of the city come Jan. 16.
The federal case number is 2:13-cv-00207-GP.