PHILADELPHIA (CN) — Meek Mill, a rapper whose imprisonment has served as a lightning rod for protests against the criminal-justice system in Philadelphia, should get a new trial, prosecutors said Monday.
Mill has been behind bars since November 2017 when Common Pleas Judge Genece Brinkley sentenced him to two to four years in prison for violating probation on a roughly decade-old gun and drug case.
Ben Waxman, a spokesman for the city’s district attorney, said prosecutors requested the new trial at a hearing Monday “due to questions of credibility of the arresting officer.”
Though the police department declined to comment on the allegations about Mill’s arresting officer, this individual is said to be among a group whom the prosecutor’s office has kept off the stand in cases across the city because of credibility questions.
Declining to rule on the request by prosecutors Monday, Judge Brinkley scheduled another hearing for June 2018 and refused to release Mill on bail.
The judge faced criticism across the country since her sentencing of Mill to prison last year, which went against the recommendations of both Mill’s probation officer and the prosecution. At the time, Brinkley chided Mill for wasting the chances he was given to clean up his act after his original conviction.
Brinkley cited a failed drug test, Mill’s failure to comply with a court order restricting his travel and two unrelated arrests. “You basically thumbed your nose at me,” she told the Philadelphia-born star whose real name is Robert Rihmeek Williams.
Last week in a phone interview from prison, Mill told NBC news anchor Lester Holt that he always thought 10 years of probation would bring him back to prison.
When he’s released, Mill told Holt, he sees himself “helping minorities that come from these situations like myself.”
Attorneys for Mill, who have appealed the rapper’s sentence unsuccessfully multiple times and have called for Brinkley to recuse herself from the case, said they will ask a higher court to have their client released.
“The district attorney’s office has shown a lot of integrity in granting our request for a new trial,” Mill’s attorney Brian McMonagle said. “They obviously have recognized and determined the criminal behavior of the arresting officer, which dates back prior to Meek’s arrest.”
Defending herself against claims that she has a “personal vendetta” against Mill, Judge Brinkley insisted earlier this month that the court has “has impartially and without prejudice presided over numerous proceedings in this matter since 2008.”
“None of the allegations by (the) defendant constitute evidence that this court is unable to act impartially and without personal bias or prejudice with respect to this matter,” Brinkley added.
Brinkley also said Mill has raised “unmeritorious claims of impropriety in an attempt to unfairly judge shop.”
Supporters of Mill greeted the news of Mill’s retrial with an impromptu outside of the courthouse where they had been rallying.
The Rev. Al Sharpton and the rapper Jay-Z are just a few of the high-profile sources who have helped broadcast the message “Stand With Meek Mill” across Pennsylvania via rallies, newspaper opinion pieces, billboards and buses.
Ahead of Holt’s feature of Mill last week on “NBC Nightly News,” the rapper was visited in prison by New England Patriots owner Robert Kraft, Philadelphia 76ers co-owner Michael Rubin and Philadelphia Mayor Jim Kenney.
Kraft called afterward for reform of the criminal-justice system
Meek Mill’s mother, grandmother and 6-year-old son, Papi, were on hand at Monday’s rally outside the courthouse.
“I miss my dad very much,” Papi said. “He picks me up from school.”
The Associated Press contributed to this report.