This week, a jury found a Michigan man not guilty for blasting an anti-police anthem in the presence of an officer.
In June, an Oakland County sheriff's deputy pulled Dejuante Franklin over in front of a gas station for a traffic violation. While handing Franklin his ticket, NWA's "Fuck tha Police" began to play in the background. As it turns out, James Webb, who did not know Franklin, witnessed the stop. He decided on his own accord to turn the song up louder before walking into the gas station store. When he exited, the officer slapped him with a ticket for misdemeanor noise violation, citing that Webb played the song at an "extremely high volume."
Webb faced a $500 fine and 93 days in jail. He contested that the officer was more upset by the song choice and less upset by the volume. Rather than paying the fine, Webb took the matter to court.
Despite the officer's reasoning, a jury absolved Webb of wrongdoing on Monday. Following nine minutes of deliberation, the jury found Webb not guilty of violating a noise ordinance.
Prior to the verdict, the deputy said that he took issue with the vulgarity of the word "fuck" in the song. However, Nicholas Somberg, a lawyer who represented Webb pro bono, said that a video from the initial traffic stop showed the officer using the same word with Franklin. Because of this and the circumstances leading to the ticket, Webb believed that this was a free speech issue.
When asked what he would say to the officer who ticketed him, Webb told FOX 2 Detroit, "I don't know, just same as the song would say. Sorry. Sorry that you didn't get one over on somebody."
Start your day with Reason. Get a daily brief of the most important stories and trends every weekday morning when you subscribe to Reason Roundup.