Rapper Afroman was sued for “emotional distress” by the police officers who raided his house after he utilized footage of the unsuccessful search in the music videos for his songs “Lemon Pound Cake” and “Would You Help Me Fix My Door” and in social media posts.
The cops claim that because of Afroman’s posts, they have endured shame, disgrace, ridicule, and loss of reputation.
Afroman was never charged with a crime. There are no copyright issues because the video was recorded by Afroman’s wife and his home security systems. Judges have granted civilians who video the police a lot of leeway and have generally determined that doing so is a constitutionally permissible activity. Using security cameras to record within one’s own home is mostly legal.
According to a copy of the lawsuit Motherboard was able to obtain, the plaintiffs are Shawn D. Cooley, Justin Cooley, Michael D. Estep, Shawn D. Grooms, Brian Newland, Lisa Phillips, and Randolph L. Walters, Jr. They are all members of different divisions of the Adams County Sheriff’s Office. The lawsuit was first reported by TMZ on Wednesday.
Afroman’s record company, Hungry Hustler Records, Media Access, which Afroman uses to disseminate his music, and three John Does, whom the plaintiffs claim to be parties involved in the case on business matters in Adams County, are also being sued by the organization. The plaintiffs specifically claim that Afroman and others breached their right to privacy by using the officers’ personas without their consent. The plaintiffs demand that Afroman and the other defendants cease publishing the officers’ personalities for profit, as well as damages totaling $25,000 for each of the four charges.
According to the lawsuit, Afroman’s residence was searched in August by law enforcement officers from the Adams County Sheriff’s Office in response to a search warrant. At the time, Afroman wasn’t home, but his wife was, and she recorded some of the search on her phone. The cops’ faces could be seen in that footage. The police were also captured on video by the home’s security cameras. According to a copy of the warrant that Ohio source FOX19 NOW was able to obtain, the order was executed as part of an investigation into narcotics possession, drug trafficking, and kidnapping.
The complaint goes on to say that Afroman then exploited the film to make music videos about the search. Additionally, it says that he uploaded content on Facebook, YouTube, Snapchat, “TicTok,” and Instagram.
“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,” the complaint reads.
One instance was Afroman, who was seen wearing a shirt that had Peter Griffin from Family Guy next to a picture of Shawn Cooley from the show. The Hunchback of Notre-Dame is depicted in another image with Shawn Grooms next to it. Fans of Afroman are shown in another photograph holding Cooley-themed items. Other officers’ pictures are shown in more.
An photograph of Judge Gabbert, who authorized the search warrant for Afroman’s home, can be seen in one Instagram post.
“This is the judge that signed the warrant that said kidnapping,” the caption reads. “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. Vote out judge Roy Droopy Gabbert,” it continues. (Afroman alleged officers stole $400 during the raid).
The complaint claims that the police officers have been “subjected to ridicule” by members of the public who have seen some of Afroman’s posts. The episode has allegedly “made it more difficult and even more dangerous” for them to carry out their official duties, the complaint adds. Some of that activity has included anonymous death threats, it says.
“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,” it reads.