Seven law enforcement officers in Ohio are suing the rapper Afroman for using footage of their raid on his house last year in videos and merchandise for commercial purposes, according to a complaint.
Four deputies, two sergeants and a detective, all with the Adams County Sheriff’s Office in West Union, filed a lawsuit in the Court of Common Pleas in Adams County on March 13, the complaint said. It listed Afroman as a defendant using his real name, Joseph E. Foreman, along with two firms that market and distribute his material and three unnamed business entities.
In the complaint, the officers objected to Mr. Foreman’s use of their images for “commercial purposes, to promote his ‘Afroman’ brand,” claiming that he was using the images to sell products and promote his tours.
The filing said that the rapper’s actions had caused them to suffer “humiliation, ridicule, mental distress, embarrassment and loss of reputation,” and listed several counts of unauthorized use of their personas and invasion of privacy. The officers are seeking damages, including money from the profits that he made from using their images, and a court injunction to remove the material, it said.
In August 2022, the complaint said, the officers raided Mr. Foreman’s residence in Winchester, Ohio, acting on a search warrant. It cited kidnapping and drug trafficking as reasons for the search, Anna Castellini, Mr. Foreman’s lawyer, said in an email statement on Friday.
“They didn’t find anything illegal in the house,” she said.
Bob Ruebusch, the chief deputy at the sheriff’s office, said in a telephone interview on Friday that no charges had resulted from the raid.
Mr. Foreman, 48, who is best known for the 2000 song “Because I Got High,” was not home during the raid, but a security camera system and his wife, using her camera phone, recorded the “faces and bodies” of the officers while they were on the property, the lawsuit said.
The rapper used the footage in music videos, in promotional material for his tours and on merchandise, the lawsuit said, including shirts imprinted with the faces of some of the officers. In an Instagram post, the filing said, he wore one such shirt and thanked one of the officers for helping him get 5.4 million views on TikTok.
“Congratulations again you’re famous for all the wrong reasons,” he wrote in the caption of the post, published in September 2022. Earlier in the post, he called the officer “Police Officer Poundcake,” a reference to one of the officers in the footage who glances at a glass-domed dish holding a cake.
The document also referred to an interview on the YouTube channel VladTV, in which Mr. Foreman talks about how the raid inspired him to write the song “Lemon Pound Cake.”
“It made the sheriff want to put down his gun and cut him a slice,” Mr. Foreman belts out in the music video for the song.
Another music video, for the song “Will You Help Me Repair My Door,” has garnered more than three million views on YouTube.
In an Instagram post this week, Mr. Foreman said that money was stolen and his security cameras were disconnected during the raid.
The post included a statement from Ms. Castellini that said they were “planning to countersue for the unlawful raid, money being stolen, and for the undeniable damage this had on my client’s family, career and property.”
Robert A. Klingler, a lawyer for the plaintiffs, said no court date had been set yet.
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