April 25, 2018 / 12:07 AM / a month ago

Rapper Meek Mill freed from U.S. jail after months-long campaign

(Reuters) - Rapper Meek Mill, who had been incarcerated for five months on a probation violation, was released from a Pennsylvania jail on Tuesday, his attorney said, after the state’s top court granted him bail, capping a star-laden campaign to have him freed.

FILE PHOTO: Meek Mill performs during the 2015 BET Awards in Los Angeles, California, June 28, 2015. REUTERS/Kevork Djansezian

The Pennsylvania Supreme Court ordered a lower court to release the “All Eyes on You” rapper and grant him a new hearing because of “credibility issues with a police officer who was a ‘critical witness’” in his 2008 gun and drug convictions, court documents show.

Meek Mill’s attorney, Joe Tacopina, said on Tuesday that the 30-year-old rapper had been released from jail near Philadelphia.

“I’d like to thank God, my family and all my public advocates for their love, support and encouragement during this difficult time,” Meek Mill said in statement on Twitter.

“While the past five months have been a nightmare, the prayers, visits, calls, letters and rallies have helped me stay positive,” he added.

Meek Mill, whose legal name is Robert Williams, was sentenced in November to two-four years in state prison for probation violations stemming from his 2008 conviction.

His case, which became a cause for recording artists, athletes and celebrities, was seen by criminal justice reform advocates as emblematic of a legal system they say treats minorities unjustly and hands out too harsh of punishments.

Actor and comedian Kevin Hart was filmed visiting Meek Mill in prison on Tuesday. Meek Mill counted Philadelphia Mayor Jim Kenney, rapper Jay Z and the owner of football’s New England Patriots, Robert Kraft, among his most prominent supporters.

“I understand that many people of color across the country don’t have that luxury and I plan to use my platform to shine a light on those issues,” Meek Mill said in Tuesday’s statement.

Meek Mill’s time in jail resulted from an August 2017 arrest in New York City for allegedly driving a motorcycle recklessly while filming a music video, and a prior altercation in St. Louis.

A lower court now has 60 days to decide whether he should get a new trial; prosecutors could also choose to drop the charges.

Prosecutors recently agreed with Meek Mill’s defense lawyers on the credibility problems of the police officer in his 2008 conviction, saying the rapper should be granted immediate bail.

Reporting by Eric Kelsey; Editing by Leslie Adler

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