A fired Philly cop wants to add defendants to the defamation lawsuit she filed in January against the makers of “Freek Meek,” a five-part Amazon Prime documentary that probes Philadelphia’s criminal justice system in light of rapper Meek Mill’s high-profile fight to get released from probation and avoid re-incarceration.
The federal complaint alleges the documentary falsely implies that Sequeta Williams is corrupt and a liar, and names Amazon, Meek Mill, Jay-Z and Roc Nation (Jay-Z’s company) and others as defendants.
A motion filed Thursday asks U.S. District Judge Nitza I. Quiñones Alejandro to dismiss Williams’ initial lawsuit so her legal team can refile it with a new list of defendants and avoid “piecemeal” litigation.
Steven Marino, Williams’ attorney, would not reveal who — or what companies — would be added to a new complaint if his client’s motion to dismiss is granted, but he said not to expect any more celebrities.
“Not that I’m aware of,” said Marino.
Williams’ lawsuit centers on a few seconds of the documentary, which first aired last August.
A photo of the former officer flashes on the screen during the fourth episode, which focuses on Philadelphia’s “Do Not Call” list, an informal index of cops whom the district attorney’s office avoids summoning to testify in court, due to credibility issues.
Williams landed on the list after the department arrested her for drawing a gun during an off-duty altercation outside of a North Philadelphia bar. The former officer was later acquitted of simple assault, but Marino argues the documentary defamed her by featuring her likeness as commentators describe the “Do Not Call” list as being composed of “dirty and dishonest” cops or officers who have lied in court.
“Leading a reasonable person to believe that she is corrupt, that she is a liar, that she is a person who is willing to go into the courtroom and fabricate dishonesties, which is all completely untrue,” said Marino.
Defense attorney Alex Spiro, who is representing Meek Mill, Jay-Z and Roc Nation, did not immediately respond to a request for comment.
In a motion filed roughly a week before Williams’, the rappers’ legal team asks Judge Quiñones Alejandro to dismiss Williams’ lawsuit, saying the defamation claims laid out in the complaint are “invalid” and “irreconcilable with the First Amendment.”
“No reasonable viewer would equate generic, attenuated statements about dishonesty surrounding an undifferentiated set of names with the specific reason why Plaintiff herself was listed on the Do Not Call list, especially not when the relevant excerpt expressly connected her inclusion to her prosecution for simple assault and making terroristic threats,” wrote Spiro.
Amazon filed a similar motion the same day, arguing that Williams’ allegations do not satisfy the legal standards for emotional distress tied to defamation.
Quiñones Alejandro has yet to rule on either motion, but it would be unusual for her to deny Williams’, said Marino.