Philly DA seeks new trial for Meek Mill, raising chance he could be freed

Listen 1:52

Meek Mill could be released from prison sooner rather than later.

During a brief status hearing Monday, prosecutors said — for the first time — that the Philadelphia District Attorney’s Office wants to grant the rapper a new trial on the drug and gun charges filed against him in 2007.

The reason: the credibility of the arresting officer is in question. That officer, Reginald Graham, allegedly provided false testimony during Mill’s first trial.

“We’re elated,” said Brian McMonagle, one of Mill’s lawyers. “We anticipate that he should be released immediately.”

Assistant District Attorney Liam Riley declined comment after the hearing. His office has said it would not oppose Mill’s release on bail.

Mill, who was not in court, has been behind bars since early November after Common Pleas Court Judge Genece Brinkley sentenced him to 2-4 years in prison for violating his probation. The probation violations leading to that sentence included an arrest after a scuffle at the St. Louis airport.

The 2-4 year sentence has sparked months of public outrage directed at Brinkley and the country’s criminal justice system.

The #FreeMeekMill campaign has also led to athletes, sports executives, and Philadelphia Mayor Jim Kenney visiting Mill in prison.

Brinkley has said in court documents that sending Mill to prison for violating his probation was not “excessive” based on his behavior while she’s presided over the case.

That includes charges tied to the airport altercation and ones related to popping a wheelie on a dirt bike while filming a music video in New York.

Both the airport and dirtbike charges were dismissed.

On Monday, a curt Brinkley refused to hear arguments for releasing Mill on bail, and instead scheduled another hearing for June 18.

McMonagle and lawyer Joe Tacopina, who also represents Mill, said they’d be filing motions with a higher court to make Mill, whose legal name is Robert Williams, a free man.

“Now the fact that he’s not out on bail is even more egregious and more outrageous because the District Attorney’s Office just agreed that his conviction should be overturned,” said Tacopina.

Even if Mill, 30, is released, it will be up to Brinkely to decide if he should get a new trial. If she approves, the District Attorney’s Office has the option of dropping the case.

Nothing would be sweeter for the #FreeMeekMill campaign, whose supporters gathered Monday outside the Criminal Justice Center for a rain-soaked rally.

“It’s not just about Meek Mill. It’s for every single person locked up in these cages that can’t have a news camera, that don’t have expensive attorneys,” shouted Temple University professor Marc Lamont Hill to a few dozen protesters.

“The whole damn system is guilty,” said attorney Angelo Pinto, who fights against mass incarceration. “The police officers, the folks in the courtroom, the judges, the corrections officers.”

Politicians also championed the cause, including state Sen. Sharif Street and Pennsylvania Lt. Gov. Mike Stack, chair of the state’s Board of Pardons.

“Justice needs to be blind and it hasn’t been. We’ve gone crazy in this country, in this city and in this state,” said Stack. “We need sanity, we need love, we need fairness, we need balance.”

Want a digest of WHYY’s programs, events & stories? Sign up for our weekly newsletter.

It will take 126,000 members this year for great news and programs to thrive. Help us get to 100% of the goal.