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Rapper Meek Mill freed on bail on order of Pennsylvania Supreme Court

"Meek was unjustly convicted and should not have spent a single day in jail," his attorney said.
Image: Meek Mill Released
Rapper Meek Mill leaves the State Correctional Institution in Chester, Pennsylvania, on Tuesday.David Swanson / The Philadelphia Inquirer via AP

Meek Mill walked out of prison Tuesday after Pennsylvania's highest court granted his bail request — but the Philadelphia-born rapper had no intention of lying low.

He was ready to celebrate.

Mill was released from a prison in Chester — and then whisked away in a helicopter courtesy of Philadelphia 76ers co-owner Michael Rubin, NBC Philadelphia reported.

His release at around 6:45 p.m. ET came just in time for him to attend the Sixers playoff game against the Miami Heat, where he rang the ceremonial Liberty Bell replica to wild applause at the Wells Fargo Center. He also sat courtside with Rubin and comedian Kevin Hart, and watched as his hometown team closed out the series 4-1.

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The hip-hop star was in prison after Common Pleas Court Judge Genece Brinkley sentenced him in November to two to four years for a probation violation stemming from a 2008 conviction on drug and firearm charges.

In its order Tuesday, the Pennsylvania Supreme Court cited prosecutors' statements that there are "credibility issues with a police officer who was a 'critical witness'" in that initial arrest. Mill, meanwhile, is not yet a free man, and the Philadelphia District Attorney's Office has requested a new trial based on whether that officer's evidence is credible.

Still, the high-profile case has become a focal point for critics calling for criminal justice reform.

"I'd like to thank God, my family, and all my public advocates for their love, support and encouragement during this difficult time," tweeted Mill, whose given name is Robert Rihmeek Williams. "While the past five months have been a nightmare, the prayers, visits, calls, letters and rallies have helped me stay positive."

Last week, the District Attorney's office said charges from that 2008 case should be vacated over questions about the officer, who has since retired from the Philadelphia police force. Another former officer who took part in Mill's arrest said the officer lied under oath during the rapper's trial, according to a court affidavit.

Philadelphia prosecutors reaffirmed their support Tuesday for a new trial.

"As our office has made clear in recent court filings, the Pa. Supreme Court's decision on Meek Mill being released on bail is consistent with the position of the Philadelphia District Attorney’s Office," prosecutors said.

Mill's attorney, Joe Tacopina, said in a statement that the rapper was "unjustly convicted" and would be pushing in the court for his permanent freedom.

"Meek is excited to be reunited with his family, and we, along with Meek, intend to continue to shine the light on a justice system in need of reform to prevent any other citizen from being put through what Meek has endured," he said.

Other artists have demanded Mill's case be reexamined. In a November op-ed piece for The New York Times, rapper Jay-Z highlighted Mill's plight as "just one example of how our criminal justice system entraps and harasses hundreds of thousands of black people every day."

Jay-Z reiterated on Facebook on Tuesday night that Mill was "caught in a probation trap for years by a broken system."

After serving eight months for the initial conviction, Mill had been on probation. He was arrested twice last year: Once for allegedly popping a wheelie on a motorcycle in New York City, and then for a separate altercation at a Missouri airport. Both charges were dismissed, but he was still found in technical violation of his probation.

Mill on Tuesday also thanked Philadelphia prosecutors, but tweeted he is not alone in his struggle.

"I understand that many people of color across the country don't have that luxury and I plan to use my platform to shine a light on those issues," Mill wrote.

He said he plans to fight to "overturn" his conviction in court.