Afroman is facing a lawsuit filed by seven Ohio police officers who raided his home last year after the rapper used the footage from the botched raid in his music videos. Photo courtesy of Afroman/Instagram
March 24 (UPI) -- Afroman is facing a lawsuit filed by seven Ohio police officers who raided his home last year after the rapper used the footage from the botched raid in his music videos.
The officers raided the home of Afroman, whose legal name is Joseph Edgar Foreman, last August after obtaining a warrant as part of an investigation into drug possession and trafficking, as well as kidnapping.
A copy of the warrant, obtained by WXIX-TV, shows that the officers believed they had probable cause to search the home for an "unknown quantity of marijuana" and "other drugs of abuse."
The search, which was conducted while Afroman was not home, failed to turn up any evidence and the suspicions that led to the warrant turned out to be unfounded.
Afroman's wife, who was home at the time of the raid, filmed the officers as they conducted their search, according to the lawsuit. The home was also equipped with security cameras which recorded the actions of the officers.
The rapper later shared the videos online and had merchandise made with the faces of the officers, according to the lawsuit.
The police officers allege that Afroman's "unauthorized use" of their likeness subjected them to death threats and humiliation as well as "mental distress, embarrassment and loss of reputation."
Each officer is seeking damages of $25,000 -- the amount they allege Afroman has made from the proceeds of his sales.
Afroman has since pushed back against the lawsuit in a post shared on Instagram, while blasting the "racist judge" who signed the "fictitious false warrant."
The rapper said the police officers "burglarize" his home and "became thieves and stole my money" and thus "lost their right of privacy."
"My video footage is my property," Afroman wrote in the post. "I used it to identify criminals, who broke into my house, stole my money and disconnected my home security system."
Anna Castellini, Afroman's lawyer, said in a statement that his team has filed a public records request from the county that they 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," Castellini said.
The U.S. Constitution allows for Americans to film interactions with police officers. Further, Ohio's wiretapping laws allow a party to a conversation to record communication without the consent of the other party.
"Additionally, consent is not required for oral communications (e.g., in-person conversations) where the speakers does not have a reasonable expectation of privacy in the communication," according to the Digital Media Law Project.
"This means that you are free to record a conversation happening between two people in a public place such as a street or a restaurant, so long as you are not using sensitive recording equipment to pick up what you otherwise would not hear."
However, Ohio's right of publicity laws make it unlawful to commercially profit from the likeness of another without written permission. Exceptions are made for the use in news and political campaigns.