Rapper Meek Mill loses civil suit against police

Meek Mill (center), who said he was wrongly stopped in 2012, bolted from court. "I quit," he said. "I quit everything . . . except for music."
Meek Mill (center), who said he was wrongly stopped in 2012, bolted from court. "I quit," he said. "I quit everything . . . except for music." (DAVID MAIALETTI / Staff Photographer)
Posted: May 03, 2014

PHILADELPHIA The local rapper known as Meek Mill repeated two words over and over Thursday after losing his civil rights lawsuit against two city police officers he accused of detaining him illegally two years ago.

"I quit," Robert Williams said, bolting from the courtroom moments after a federal jury delivered its verdict. "I quit everything . . . except for music."

The 26-year-old North Philadelphia native made a hasty exit from the federal courthouse, leaving his attorneys behind.

"They ain't from where I'm from," Williams said of the jurors in a brief elevator interview. "I don't really expect them to understand."

Earlier, Williams' attorney, Dennis Cogan, had asked the panel to award his client more than $400,000 over a 10-hour detention on Oct. 31, 2012.

The delay and Williams' subsequent detainment, Cogan said, caused the rapper to miss his flight to an important party to launch his debut album, cost him potential endorsement money, and tarnished his reputation among his fans.

"I'm not saying, feel sorry for his financial situation," Cogan said. "But the law is the law."

But the eight-member panel, made up mostly of white jurors, - took less than two hours to reject those claims, finding that police had not violated Williams' civil rights.

"Although we voted unanimously that Mr. Williams' Fourth Amendment rights were not violated, we feel strongly both the plaintiff and defendant were in the wrong and made mistakes," the panel wrote to the judge. Outside court, jurors declined to comment on what they meant by that.

The 2012 traffic stop near 10th Street and Girard Avenue came at a crucial point in Williams' career.

His first album, Dreams and Nightmares, had just debuted at No. 2 on the Billboard charts and he had agreed to appear at several album launch parties across the country.

He was on his way to catch a private jet to Atlanta for one such event when Officers Andre Boyer and Alvin Outlaw pulled him over.

Testifying Monday, Williams said he immediately suspected he had been targeted because of his race.

"In neighborhoods like where I come from, four black males in a car . . . we're always being asked to be searched," he said.

Boyer and Outlaw told jurors that they flagged Williams because of dark tinting on the windows of his Range Rover.

Boyer, at the time, was under investigation and would later be fired for lying to Internal Affairs investigators about another traffic stop.

In Williams' case, the former officer testified Tuesday, he immediately smelled marijuana coming from the rapper's vehicle.

Williams refused to let them search it. So, the rapper and his passengers, including an off-duty narcotics investigator from Florida and a senior vice president at the Warner Bros. record label, were placed in handcuffs and held until officers could obtain a search warrant.

No drugs were found, Williams passed a drug test, and no one was charged.

Still, said Amanda Shoffel, a deputy city solicitor, neither the city nor its officers owed Williams anything.

"Any reasonable officer faced with those circumstances would have conducted an investigation," she said. "Any officer would have done the same thing."


jroebuck@phillynews.com

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