Jermelle English Jr., a Wisconsin man who was violently arrested by Kenosha police officers in a case of mistaken identity, has received legal support from Jay-Z’s Team ROC, the social justice arm of Roc Nation.
According to a report from TMZ, Team ROC has hired lawyer Alex Spiro, who has previously worked with celebrities such as Jay-Z, Megan Thee Stallion, and Ye, to represent English and his family. Spiro will seek to get all the charges against English dropped and evaluate any civil suits against the Kenosha Police Department.
The incident occurred on July 21, when English and his girlfriend Shanya Boyd were dining at an Applebee’s restaurant in Kenosha with their 1-year-old child. Police officers entered the restaurant looking for suspects in a hit-and-run accident that involved two Black men, and a woman carrying a baby. They mistakenly identified English and Boyd as the culprits and proceeded to arrest them.
A cell phone video captured by a witness showed the officers pinning English to the ground while he was holding his baby and trying to pull the child out of his arms. One of the officers appeared to punch English in the face several times. English repeatedly denied any involvement in the hit-and-run and pleaded with the officers to stop hurting him and his baby.
The officers later realized that they had arrested the wrong people and found the actual suspects hiding in the restaurant’s bathroom. However, they still charged English and Boyd with disorderly conduct, resisting and obstructing an officer. Boyd was also charged with possession of marijuana.
The video of the arrest went viral on social media and sparked outrage from local advocacy groups and civil rights activists. Many people praised Jay-Z for using his power and wealth to help English and his family, who are facing an unjust situation. “Jay-Z is a real one for this. He always steps up for the people who need it the most,” one Twitter user wrote.
“Thank you Jay-Z for standing with Jermelle English Jr. and his family. This is what we need more of in our community. Solidarity and justice,” another user commented.
Dania Diaz, Team ROC’s managing director, said in a statement that the arrest of English was “an absolute travesty” and that Team ROC was determined to hold the Kenosha police officers accountable.
“The reckless arrest of Jermelle English Jr. and the careless endangerment of his infant child by the Kenosha Police Department is an absolute travesty,” Diaz said. “The Team ROC team is here to support Jermelle and his family through this traumatic experience, demand justice and hold the Kenosha police officers accountable.”