Brandon "Tiny Doo" Duncan and Aaron Harvey filed a federal civil-rights lawsuit against the San Diego Police Department and two detectives on Jan. 11 for arresting them in 2014 under a controversial gang conspiracy law.
Duncan’s bond was $500,000, and Harvey’s was $1.1 million. Neither man could afford to raise the money, and languished in jail for seven months until a judge dropped their bonds, notes The San Diego Union-Tribune.
Ultimately, a judge dropped all the charges in March 2015.
Both Duncan's and Harvey's alleged crimes were supposedly tied to nine shootings in 2013 and 2014, but neither was accused of actually taking part in the shootings.
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Duncan was arrested for allegedly promoting the crimes with his rap lyrics, benefiting from his gang’s "street cred," and helping to inspire violence with his music, reported KNSD.
Harvey was arrested for pictures that he posted on Facebook that allegedly promoted fear and gang violence, notes The San Diego Union-Tribune.
Duncan and Harvey were originally arrested under California Penal Code 182.5, which was created to target members of gangs who help and/or benefit from the gang's crimes, according to FindLaw:
Notwithstanding subdivisions (a) or (b) of Section 182, any person who actively participates in any criminal street gang, as defined in subdivision (f) of Section 186.22, with knowledge that its members engage in or have engaged in a pattern of criminal gang activity, as defined in subdivision (e) of Section 186.22, and who willfully promotes, furthers, assists, or benefits from any felonious criminal conduct by members of that gang is guilty of conspiracy to commit that felony and may be punished as specified in subdivision (a) of Section 182.
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The lawsuit filed by Duncan and Harvey says that the rap lyrics and social media postings are protected free speech, and that both men were subject to unlawful search and seizure by the police, reports the The San Diego Union-Tribune.
The San Diego Police Department referred questions by the newspaper to the City Attorney’s Office, which said that it had not yet seen the lawsuit and would not issue a comment.
Duncan and Harvey have denied being gang members, but believe they were punished for knowing people who are.
Duncan, who worked laying tile and hoped to become a rapper someday, was arrested in San Diego as he prepared to go to his day job.
Harvey was arrested by U.S. marshals in Las Vegas, where he was working to become a real estate agent. The marshals allegedly told Harvey that he was being arrested for several murders in San Diego.