Wu-Tang Clan Producer Sues NYPD After Being Imprisoned for 4 Years for False Rape Claims
According to Vice, Wu-Tang Clan’s former producer Derrick “True Master” Harris the seasoned beatsmith was imprisoned at Riker’s Island for FOUR years after being falsely accused of sexual assault in 2011. DNA evidence proved True Master didn’t commit the crime, but he still wound up behind bars for four long years. Now, Harris and civil rights attorney Ben Crump are suing the New York City Police Department for false imprisonment.
Within less than 24 hours of the U.S. filing, GZA posted a screenshot of a Vice article with the message, "We're with you @trumas." He also shared a petition calling for termination of police officer Pabon and the news release from Ben Crump's press conference.
In addition to losing four years behind bars, Derrick "True Master" Harris claims to have sustained traumatic brain injuries while awaiting trial.
“Throughout the near-decade of torment, the defendants were presented with opportunity after opportunity to change course and ‘right this wrong,’” the lawsuit reads. “Time and time again, when faced with the choice to do the right thing, the defendants relentlessly chose to continue down the wrong path.”
Among those named in the suit are the City of New York, the New York City Police Department, three officers who carried out the arrest and investigation of Harris in 2011 and the New York County district attorney. This comes over four years after Harris was acquitted of the sexual assault charge. Harris and his legal team are seeking damages, legal fees, as well as declaratory and injunctive relief from the defendants.
During 2011, Harris was charged with raping a friend in his apartment in Harlem. After sharing a glass of wine with the man, the woman allegedly stripped naked and began screaming from the balcony. Harris insisted the woman leave his home and called the police. But witnesses had already called 911 after seeing the woman screaming. Police broke into his home without a warrant hours later and "punched, pushed, and slammed him to the ground, causing physical injuries and handcuffed him."
Later, the woman testified Harris punched and pushed her to the ground before attempting to rape her. Authorities then returned to Harris' home armed with a search warrant and falsely reported they had found blood and semen linking him to the crime. But Crump argued, “Even though he was at the pinnacle of success, he was a Black man in America which made him an easy target for a discriminatory criminal justice system.”
After two days and a psychiatric exam, Harris was released on bail. Upon returning home, however, he was re-arrested for "escape." He was taken to the West Facility of Rikers Island, where he remained as a pre-trial detainee for the next four years. The officers stuck to their original story at trial, but DNA evidence disproved it quickly.
As the lawsuit explains, “Defendants were in possession of this Medical Examiner Report as early as September 26, 2011, yet continued prosecution of Mr. Harris for years leading up to this trial of 2015 despite access to conclusive evidence of innocence.”
Harris was acquitted by a grand jury in 2015, but he still faced attempted rape, sex abuse, assault, unlawful imprisonment, and escape charges. Harris spent an additional four years fighting to have these charges dropped, which cost him over $150,000. The charges were finally dropped in January 2020.
“He lost everything,” Harris’ attorney Craig Phemister said. “He had a million-dollar brownstone in Harlem prior to this. He was a successful, award-winning music producer. All gone. The NYPD, the system, must change.”