The Philadelphia Inquirer
A former Philadelphia police officer is suing Meek Mill, Jay-Z, Amazon, and others in federal court, claiming she was defamed and portrayed as “dirty and dishonest” in a documentary series exploring the Philly rapper’s long-lasting legal saga.
In a lawsuit filed this week, Saqueta Williams contends she was made to look as if she lied to the Philadelphia Police Department’s Internal Affairs Unit in the Amazon Prime Video series Free Meek, defaming and damaging her reputation.
The 33-page complaint, filed in U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Pennsylvania, names Mill; Jay-Z; Jay-Z’s management company, Roc Nation; Amazon.com Inc.; and Wenner Media — the parent company of Rolling Stone — as defendants. Williams, who seeks more than $75,000 in damages, alleges that Mill, Jay-Z, Amazon, and others “inspected and edited” the episode defaming her, and published and circulated the documentary “despite having entertained serious doubts as to the truth of the publication.”
Representatives for Mill, Jay-Z, Roc Nation, Wenner Media, and Amazon did not immediately return requests for comment Friday.
Over five episodes, Free Meek highlights Mill’s status as a hip-hop superstar turned criminal justice reform advocate, chronicling the rapper’s 12-year legal battle in the Philadelphia court system over a gun charge, prison, probation violations, and clashes with Common Pleas Court Judge Genece A. Brinkley.
The fourth episode, “Filthadelphia,” details the Philadelphia district attorney’s “Do Not Call” list, a once-private index of current and former police officers whom prosecutors are instructed to keep off the witness stand over allegations of misconduct. Allegations of misconduct by Mill’s arresting officer, Reggie Graham, proved a turning point in the rapper’s court battle.
While a voice-over from Bradley Bridge, an assistant defender at the Defender Association of Philadelphia, explains the “Do Not Call” list, an Inquirer article displaying Williams’ name and picture flashes across the screen.
“The DA’s Office generated a specific list that has 66 names of police officers on it,” Bridge says in the documentary. “There have been findings by the Police Department the officers have lied to Internal Affairs, to other police officers, or in court.”
Williams’ photo and name remain on the screen while Bridge, who is not a defendant in the lawsuit, says, “… lied to Internal Affairs.” Her name is never mentioned in the documentary.
Officers’ reasons for appearing on the “Do Not Call” list vary, ranging from assault charges and DUIs to mishandling evidence and lying during a departmental investigation. Williams, who was a seven-year veteran assigned to the 22nd District, appeared on the list after she was arrested over an off-duty confrontation in a North Philly bar. The lawsuit claims Williams drew her firearm after she and her significant other were “confronted by violence and aggression” from a group of women they did not know.
Williams was charged and later acquitted of simple assault, recklessly endangering another person, terroristic threats, and related offenses. The case led to her 2017 dismissal from the police force.
“She was attacked,” Williams’ attorney, Steven Marino, said Friday. “It had nothing to do with lying, deception, or perjury.”
But now, the lawyer says, the ex-cop’s reputation has been “irreparably harmed.”
“It traumatized her because her reputation as a police officer is ruined. She’s not corrupt or deceitful.”
Marino said Williams, 30, who now works as a security guard at a local school, has been accused of perjury and is entitled to a payout.
“The documentary paints our police officers with a very broad brush,” Marino said. “It’s simply not true and damaging.”
Williams’ lawsuit isn’t the first waged against the documentary. Months before Free Meek was made available on Amazon Prime, Brinkley’s attorney, A. Charles Peruto Jr., sued the documentary makers, claiming they violated the Wiretap Act by leaking his surreptitiously recorded comments. The suit was dismissed in June.
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