Rapper Meek Mill asks appeals court to overturn 2008 drug and gun conviction

Mill's lawyers and prosecutors both want a new trial, saying they no longer trust the testimony of the police officer who was the sole government witness.
Image: Meek Mill
Rapper Meek Mill departs with his son Rihmeek "Papi" Williams after a hearing at a Pennsylvania appeals court in Philadelphia on July 16, 2019.Matt Rourke / AP

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By Janelle Griffith

Lawyers for rapper Meek Mill on Tuesday asked a Pennsylvania appeals court to overturn a 2008 drug and firearm conviction that has kept him on probation for a decade.

Mill, whose real name is Robert Rihmeek Williams, is seeking a new trial before a new judge — a bid supported by prosecutors, who have told the court they no longer trust the police officer who was the sole government witness in the case.

A Philadelphia judge sentenced Mill in November 2017 to two to four years in prison after a pair of arrests for minor parole violations, including for allegedly popping a wheelie on his motorcycle in New York City on the set of a music video.

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He spent five months in prison before a court ordered him released last year, after prosecutors noted "credibility issues" with the now-retired police officer who testified against him in the 2008 case.

Assistant District Attorney Paul George has indicated the officer will not be called if the case is retried.

Defense lawyer Kim Watterson said Mill's case would likely fall apart without the police testimony.

The officer said Mill pointed a gun at him and was in possession of drugs during the arrest outside the rapper's southwest Philadelphia home. Mill has denied both allegations. Another former officer who took part in the arrest said the officer lied under oath during Mill's trial, according to a court affidavit.

Mill has become a vocal proponent for criminal justice reform. Advocates have said his case illustrates racial bias in the criminal justice system.

Mill's lawyers have accused Judge Genece Brinkley, who handed down the sentence and sent him to jail for the probation violations, of inappropriate behavior and bias.

In May, Philadelphia's top prosecutor filed a brief that questioned the impartiality of Brinkley, who is also black.