Meek Mill’s legal team is launching a breakthrough bid to free the jailed rapper after it was revealed the police officer who arrested him was secretly on a DA’s list of cops suspected of framing suspects and lying in court.
It has just emerged that the Philadelphia District Attorney’s Office secretly compiled a list of around two dozen police officers with an alleged history of lying, racial bias, brutality or abuse of power to block them from testifying in court again. Reports said the list was compiled in 2017, but other sources say earlier versions could date back as far as the 1990s.
The Philadelphia Inquirer reported that the list includes Officer Reginald V. Graham, who arrested Meek in 2007 on gun and drug charges and testified against him in court. Last year, Meek was jailed for up to four years for violating his probation linked to this original case, stirring an outcry against the criminal justice system.
Stars including Jay Z, Super Bowl champs the Philadelphia Eagles and Olympic snowboarder Tit Stante have campaigned for Meek’s release, with Jay saying, “For about a decade Meek’s been stalked by a system that considers the slightest infraction a justification for locking him back inside.”
But now Meek’s lawyers believe they have enough to argue that Meek’s initial conviction was wrongful.
It was based largely on officer Graham’s account, according to court records. Graham testified in Meek’s 2008 trial that police informants had seen Meek, then age 18, sell crack cocaine on the streets of Philadelphia – even though Meek denied he was there and was actually in court at the time supporting his cousin, which his lawyers say is a provable fact that was not considered.
The crack allegation against Meek was used to obtain a police warrant to search his cousin’s Philadelphia home where Meek had been staying. Meek says that he was outside the home when officers arrived and admits that he had an illegal gun, which he immediately threw on the ground.
But Graham had asserted in court in 2008 that Meek, whose given name is Robert Rihmeek Williams, pulled out the gun, ducked behind a car and tried to shoot them. “Myself and Officer Johnson took cover behind the green van and observed Mr. Williams pull the gun out of his waistband,” Graham testified during his trial. He “was behind the car looking like he was trying to give off a shot.” He claimed they wrestled Meek to the ground and arrested him as he tried to flee.
Meek also said in the 2008 trial that the cops had cuffed him outside the house but the officers then dragged him inside the house and beat him up. He said, according to the transcript, “I was getting beat by at least four cops. I was laying on my stomach, I was being kicked in my face, punched in my face.”
Meek also said, “I maybe got knocked out two or three times from getting kicked in my face. I had stitches. I had lumps. If you see my mug shot from the pictures I went out [unconscious] like three times.” And, “I was handcuffed. The handcuff prints on my hand from when you get thrown around with handcuffs, your hands are going to start bleeding….every last cop hit me”
Meek also said in a 2015 interview with Billboard that the cops, “beat the s–t out of me.” Showing a mugshot of his bandaged face and swollen eye, he added, “[I had] a concussion, stitches, braids ripped out. My blood was on the ceiling, on the floor.” He required hospital treatment and stitches to his head, and was photographed handcuffed to a chair in the hospital.
His attorney Joe Tacopina said, “The officers had already made an arrest and handcuffed Meek outside the house. The only reason they took him into the house was to beat the living hell out of him.”
Meek’s mugshot shows him with a swollen eye and two bandages to his face covering the stitches he had following the alleged attack. Other pictures from inside the house show blood splattered on furniture and personal items.
Philadelphia Judge Genece Brinkley in 2008 convicted Meek of drug possession, a firearms violation and assault, tied to Graham’s testimony that Meek had pointed his gun at officers. He served five months in jail.
Ten years later, Meek — now a big hip-hop star — was called back before Brinkley after he allegedly violated his probation by getting into an altercation and then popping a wheelie in New York.
Brinkley jailed Meek for two to four years for the violation, even though prosecutors had not recommended jail time. Meek’s legal team has claimed Brinkley has an unfair agenda against the rapper and are seeking her recusal from the case. The judge has denied their claims.
And now Meek’s legal team is preparing to make a new motion to set aside his original conviction based on Graham’s account, given that the list indicates the officer was suspected by the D.A.’s office to be tainted.
Meek’s attorney Tacopina added, “The news of this secret list, which includes the only officer to testify under oath against Meek Mill, is troubling but not surprising because we knew all along that the information officer Graham gave in court was false.
“What is really troubling is this information about the corrupt officers — compiled by a special police misconduct committee for the DA — was held in secret, kept secret and kept from defendants and defense lawyers by the former DA, Seth Williams, who is now in jail for corruption.
“In Philadelphia there were 800 convictions overturned because of cops lying under oath, but it should be at least 801, to include Meek. Meek shouldn’t spend another day in the jail.”
Tacopina added he would imminently file a motion in the Pennsylvania Supreme Court to set aside Meek’s conviction, and he will ask the court to immediately grant him bail.
Sources believe Graham, 47, was put on the list because fellow officers said he had participated in robberies. One of Graham’s former partners, former narcotics officer Jeffrey Walker, had testified about him in sworn depositions in October 2016.
“I would steal with Reggie Graham,” said Walker, who was convicted of police corruption and spent two years in prison. “There was stealing in that whole squad, but these are the people I was basically breaking bread with.”
Graham retired early from the force last year but was not charged with any crimes.
Philadelphia District Attorney Larry Krasner said he could not comment on any specific names on the list before confirming this would not compromise any ongoing investigation or grand jury proceeding.
Krasner, who was elected last November and has been in office just over 40 days, said he and his team were fully investigating the list, and explained, “The list comes from a prior administration, and it is hard to know how long it has existed for given that so few people know about it.”
Prior to taking the role as Philly’s top prosecutor Krasner was a career criminal defense and civil rights attorney who was openly critical of the criminal justice system. He defended Black Lives Matter and sued the police more than 75 times for civil rights violations.
He said, “I have been a civil rights attorney for 25 years, dealing with alleged police corruption, and it has been a struggle for defense attorneys and civil rights attorneys to get any cooperation from the District Attorney’s office.”
He added, under his charge, that will now change. “My oath is to obey and defend the United States Constitution, which states you have to reveal to the defense all information that would affect the fairness of a proceeding…so yes, there will be more transparency.”