Police sue rapper Afroman for "humiliation" and "loss of reputation" after he used footage of home raid to make new music and videos
Ohio-based rap artist Joseph Edgar Foreman, known by the name Afroman, is being sued by seven officers with the Adams County Sheriff's Office for using footage of their 2022 search on his home to make and promote new music. The officers accused Foreman's use of their images and likeness as a "malicious" act that tarnished their reputation and humiliated them, according to a complaint.
The lawsuit stems from a search of Foreman's home on Aug. 21, 2022, which was conducted with a "lawfully issued search warrant," according to a March 13 complaint. A photo of the warrant shared by the local Fox affiliate but has not been independently verified by CBS News shows that the search was for evidence of marijuana and drug paraphernalia related to drug possession and trafficking, as well as kidnapping.
Foreman, known for his song "Because I Got High," was not at his home during the search, but his wife was present and recorded parts of the search on her phone. His house also had several security cameras that recorded the search.
Following the raid, the seven members of law enforcement involved – deputies Shawn Cooley, Justin Cooley, Shawn Grooms and Lisa Phillips, as well as sergeants Michael Estep and Randolph Walters Jr. and detective sergeant Brian Newland – say that Foreman used those video recordings to make music and music videos about the search. There were "dozens" of videos and images across numerous social media platforms, they said, that "clearly portray" their images and likeness.
They are suing him for the unauthorized use of individual's persona, invasion of privacy by misappropriation and invasion of privacy by false light publicity, among other things. The officers have demanded a trial by jury.
Videos posted by Foreman show police breaking down his door as they entered the home wielding weapons. He since has posted several videos showing the officers' movement through his home.
One of those clips seemingly became the source of inspiration for his new song "Lemon Pound Cake" and was heavily used in the official music video. In the clip, officers are seen walking through his kitchen and one of the officers is seen looking several times at a pound cake being kept on a cake stand on the counter. That officer quickly became referenced as "Officer Poundcake" by Foreman on social media, a nickname that Foreman also started using on merchandise.
The other officers involved were also singled out in posts by Foreman.
"Defendants' actions were willful, wanton, malicious, and done with conscious or reckless disregard for the rights of Plaintiffs," the complaint says, adding that he was not authorized to use their personas for commercial purposes.
The officers also claim that the posts led to them being "subjected to ridicule," and that it's "made it more difficult and even more dangerous" for them to do their jobs, saying that they have since received death threats.
"Plaintiffs have suffered damages, including all profits derived from and attributable to Defendants' unauthorized use of Plaintiffs' personas, and have suffered humiliation, ridicule, mental distress, embarrassment, and loss of reputation," the complaint says.
Foreman has posted about the lawsuit on Instagram, saying that the search itself was based on a "false warrant" that "put the Adams county sheriff in a position to attempt to kill me." He also accused the officers involved of stealing his money, saying that doing so took away their "right of privacy."
"My video footage is my property. ... I am a law-abiding taxpaying citizens who was violated by criminals camouflaged by law-enforcement," he said, adding in a statement from his lawyer that reads, "We are waiting for public records requests from Adam's county we still have not received. We are planning to counter sue for the unlawful raid, money being stolen, and for the undeniable damage this had on my clients family, career and property."
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