The police officer whose testimony helped jail Philadelphia rapper Meek Mill on crack cocaine and gun charges in 2008 is on a secret new district attorney’s list of cops with an alleged history of lying, racial bias, or brutality, which was compiled in a move to block the suspect officers from testifying in court.
Mill’s legal team said they are now seeking an urgent review of the case and that Mill’s original conviction and subsequent incarceration for breaking parole should be immediately overturned.
According to a report in The Philadelphia Inquirer, the DA’s office compiled the list—said to include around two-dozen names—last year, following major corruption scandals in the force, although Meek’s legal team told Page Six that earlier versions of the list date back as far as the 1990s, and were compiled (and kept secret) by a former Philly DA now in jail on corruption charges.
The Philadelphia Inquirer reported on its website Philly.com 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, who had a protracted beef with Drake, was jailed for up to four years for violating his probation linked to this original case.
Meek’s jailing for such a long term on minor charges stirred outrage. Jay Z said: “For about a decade, Meek’s been stalked by a system that considers the slightest infraction a justification for locking him back inside... Instead of a second chance, probation ends up being a land mine, with a random misstep bringing consequences greater than the crime. A person on probation can end up in jail over a technical violation like missing a curfew."
Philly.com reports that Philadelphia’s new district attorney, Larry Krasner, confirmed the existence of the list but declined to name the officers on it. Krasner told Philly.com that he would have a comprehensive plan for addressing problem officers and their testimony within three months.
Court records show Meek’s conviction was based almost entirely on the word of Graham, who retired from the force at age 47, reports say.
He was the only one of several officers involved in the arrest to testify at Mill’s 2008 trial, where Meek—whose given name is Robert Rihmeek Williams—was convicted of drug possession, firearms violations, and simple assault, based on Graham’s testimony.
“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. Meek, he said, “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 denied the story and alleged police brutality, saying: “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… 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... every last cop hit me.”
Meek’s mugshot from the arrest clearly shows he has been beaten.
He served five months in jail, but 10 years later was jailed for two to four years for a relatively minor violation of his parole.
Meek’s lawyers told Page Six that they believe the secret list means they can now show that Meek’s initial conviction was wrongful.
His attorney Joe Tacopina told Page Six: “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, Page Six said.
Philly.com said that one of Graham’s former partners testified about him in a series of sworn depositions in October 2016.
“I would steal with Reggie Graham,” former narcotics officer Jeffrey Walker, who was convicted of police corruption and spent two years in prison, said, according to Philly.com. “There was stealing in that whole squad, but these are the people I was basically breaking bread with.”
Graham denied the allegations and called Walker a liar. He was not charged with any crimes. He took early retirement in March last year.
DA Larry Krasner, who has been in the job just over a month, and has defended Black Lives Matter and sued the police more than 75 times for civil-rights violations, told Page Six: “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.
“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.”
Kelley Hodge, who was Krasner’s predecessor, told Philly.com that she was unaware of the specifics of the list.