An Atlanta music producer spent 10 days behind bars simply because he accepted a stranger’s friend request on Facebook.
David Cunningham — also known by his stage name, “Dun Deal” — said that he became a suspect in an Augusta, Ga., Costco heist in which thieves took $80,000 worth of jewelry from the display case, The Root reports.
Despite having never been to Augusta, Cunningham got wrapped up in the investigation after accepting a friend request from a woman he didn’t know, who happened to be an accomplice in the robbery.
“I have fans, you know, people follow me. And I add people back. I have no issue with following people back,” Cunningham said.
The woman’s name was Ronnica Westmoreland, and she allegedly rented the getaway car used by the men who carried out the robbery back in 2014. When questioned by police, Westmoreland claimed that she had loaned the car to someone named David.
“David is a pretty common name so they went to her Facebook page, found everyone named David,” Cunningham’s attorney, James Radford, told local reporters. “They found a black man who wears a lot of jewelry. So they jumped to the conclusion that must be him.”
Because Cunningham is a music producer, he had photos of himself with many famous rappers and musicians who wear an abundance of jewelry. Investigators reportedly tried to use those photos as “evidence” to consider Cunningham a suspect.
One photo in particular was of Cunningham and Bryan “Birdman” Williams, co-founder of Cash Money Records — the recording label home to hip hop superstars such as Lil Wayne, Drake, and Nicki Minaj.
“The picture that they showed me of me was with Birdman. They asked me who that was,” Cunningham recounted. “He was wearing a lot of diamonds, and they slid me the picture, and they ask, ‘Who’s this? I’m like, ‘That’s Birdman!’”
Authorities even went as far as to claim that Cunningham's fingerprints were found on the scene even though that isn’t possible because he had never been to that store and he had never been arrested, so he had no fingerprints on record.
Cunningham said they even raided his Atlanta music studio and “threw tear gas over the gate, put guns in people’s faces.”
After getting arrested at a Dallas airport, Cunningham spent 10 days in jail before the charges were dropped. Defense attorney Caleb Gross noted that if Cunningham didn’t have the resources to prove his innocence, he could have very well done hard time for a crime he had no part in.
“If he was someone else, someone without family, without means, without a father who understood the process, that 10 days could have turned to 50,” Gross said. “It could have turned to 100. That’s how people get sucked into the system.”
Cunningham was recently awarded a $300,000 settlement for all of the trouble he was put through. While Augusta Commissioner William Fennoy said he feels bad that taxpayers are paying for this major screw up, it was the appropriate decision to make.
“I know that if it was me who spent 10 days in jail for something I didn’t do, I would want as much money as possible,” said Fennoy.
Reports note that the deputies who falsified evidence were disciplined, with one of them being forced to resign.
It appears that justice was served in Cunningham’s case; although it is disgraceful that he had to endure the ordeal in the first place. His unfortunate situation serves as an example of how easily the criminal justice system can swallow many innocent people.
Banner Photo Credit: Twitter @MattQuillenRNN