Several law enforcement officials who searched a man’s home, found nothing illegal, but were accused of stealing money, are now counter-suing him for invading their privacy. In an ironic twist, the seven officers, including four deputies, two sergeants, and a detective, are taking legal action against Afroman, the rapper behind hits such as “Because I Got High” and “Crazy Rap.” The officers claim that their privacy was violated due to Afroman’s response to the August 2022 raid. This incident highlights the importance of understanding the complexities and nuances of law enforcement and privacy rights.
According to the Associated Press, the Adams County Sheriff’s Office dispatched seven officers, and others not named as plaintiffs, to execute a search warrant on Joseph “Afroman” Foreman’s property, based on probable cause that it contained drugs, drug paraphernalia, and was linked to trafficking and kidnapping. However, the search yielded no evidence, and no charges were filed. The cash that was seized during the raid was returned, but it was reportedly found to be several hundred dollars short. The Bureau of Criminal Investigation attributed the discrepancy to a miscount by the deputies during the raid.
In response to the incident, Afroman posted surveillance footage of the raid on social media, and later released a music video called “Will You Help Me Repair My Door,” which included additional footage of the search. However, the officers involved in the lawsuit claim that the videos caused them emotional distress, humiliation, embarrassment, and ridicule, and they are seeking compensation for any profits made from the use of their likenesses, including live event tickets, merchandise, and promotional material associated with Afroman’s brand, which sells beer, marijuana, T-shirts, and other items. According to the AP, the officers also want Afroman to remove any videos or images of them.
Afroman, who previously suggested that he was being targeted by the Sheriff’s Office due to his repeated attempts to follow up on a burglary of his home, responded to the new lawsuit on Instagram. He accuses a “racist judge” of signing “a fictitious false warrant” that “put the Adams county sheriff in a position to attempt to kill me.” He calls the officers who raided his home “Criminals caught in the act, of vandalizing and stealing money.” The artist writes, “I am a law-abiding taxpaying citizens who was violated by criminals camouflaged by law-enforcement! I use my property,/my video footage to make up for damages and to make the public aware of criminals disguised as law-enforcement Stealing money and disconnecting cameras.”
“We are waiting for public records requests from Adam’s county we still have not received,” Afroman’s lawyer Anna Castellini says in a statement, shared in the same post. “We are planning to counter sue for the unlawful raid, money being stolen, and for the undeniable damage this had on my [client’s] family, career and property.”
Recap on what’s happening:
Afroman was never charged with a crime. The footage was taken by Afroman’s wife and Afroman’s home security systems, meaning that there are no copyright issues here. Courts have given wide latitude to citizens filming the police and have generally decided that filming the police in public is a Constitutionally-protected activity. Filming within one’s own residence using security cameras is, generally, legal.
The plaintiffs are Shawn D. Cooley, Justin Cooley, Michael D. Estep, Shawn D, Grooms, Brian Newland, Lisa Phillips, and Randolph L. Walters, Jr., according to a copy of the complaint obtained by Motherboard. They all hold various ranks with the Adams County Sheriff’s Office. TMZ first reported the lawsuit on Wednesday.