Police officers who conducted a botched armed raid of rapper Afroman’s home last year have filed a lawsuit against him for invasion of privacy and emotional distress after he used footage of it in his music videos.
Earlier this month, police officers Shawn D Cooley, Justin Cooley, Michael D Estep, Shawn D, Grooms, Brian Newland, Lisa Phillips, and Randolph L Walters, Jr, filed the lawsuit in Adams county, Ohio, against Afroman, alleging that the rapper and others including his record label used the officers’ persona for commercial purposes.
According to court documents, police officers conducted a search of Afroman’s residence last August, “pursuant to a lawfully issued search warrant”. According to the warrant, the search was carried out as part of an investigation into drug possession and trafficking, as well as kidnapping.
Following the raid, Adams county prosecutor’s office said officers found no probative criminal evidence, and Afroman faced no charges.
At the time of the raid, Afroman, whose real name is Joseph Edgar Foreman, was not home but his wife was.
In addition to Afroman’s wife recording parts of the raid on her phone, security video cameras installed at their home also caught portions of the search, including the faces and bodies of many of the officers involved.
The rapper went on to use the footage recorded by his wife and house cameras as part of several music videos which were released online. Afroman also posted content from the raid onto his social media accounts including Facebook, Snapchat, TikTok and Instagram, the lawsuit said.
“These music videos clearly portray the images, likenesses, and distinctive appearances (‘personas’), of many of the officers involved in the search, including those of all Plaintiffs,” according to the lawsuit.
One of the images posted to Instagram is of Afroman wearing a T-shirt with a picture of police officer Shawn D Cooley next to a picture of Family Guy character Peter Griffin, the lawsuit said.
Another Instagram post featured a picture of judge Roy Gabbert who signed the search warrant. According to the lawsuit, the caption read: “This is the judge that signed the warrant that said kidnapping. His name is Roy Droopy Gabbert. Vote him out before he signs a fictitious warrant then send some over reacting paranoid KKKops to your House jeopardizing the lives of you and your family, Stealing your money and disconnecting your home video security surveillance system…”
The police officers allege that Afroman’s actions were “willful, wanton, malicious, and done with conscious or reckless disregard” and claim that they have been subject to ridicule by the public.
They also claimed that they have been subject to death threats and have been unable to perform their duties properly.
“As a result of Defendants’ actions, Plaintiffs have suffered damages, including all profits derived from and attributable to Defendants’ unauthorized use of Plaintiffs’ personas, and have suffered humiliation, ridicule, mental distress, embarrassment, and loss of reputation,” the lawsuit said.
Each officer is seeking damages of $25,000 per four counts.
Earlier this year, Afroman told Vice that he lost gig opportunities due to the kidnapping charge written on the warrant and that he has channeled his anger through his music.
“I’m a civilian. Then, to make matters worse, I’m a Black civilian in America. The police department was not designed to serve and protect me. I felt powerless yet angry. These guys can destroy my property and I literally couldn’t do nothing about it. The only thing I could do was take to my pen and sing about the injustice. And to my surprise, it’s going over well!” he said.
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