JACKSONVILLE, Fla. — Attorneys for Jacksonville rapper Foolio want a judge to suppress all evidence in the criminal case against him, saying his April arrest was the result of an illegal search and detention.
Foolio, whose given name is Charles Andrew Jones II, was charged with illegal tint and fleeing/eluding law enforcement after he was pulled over by detectives from the Jacksonville Sheriff's Office's Gang Investigations Unit on April 4.
Police reports say detectives were patrolling the area of MLK Parkway and Division Street when they spotted the 24-year-old Jones driving an SUV with excessive window tint. After activating the emergency lights on their undercover vehicle, police say, Jones “did not oblige with [sic] my order to stop,” but continued driving at speeds of 20 mph “for approximately three blocks.”
A new motion challenges that narrative, saying police body worn camera show Jones actually stopped “less than one block” from where police activated their lights. A map included in the filing shows a distance of about 465 feet between the railroad crossing, where detectives said they activated their lights, and the eventual traffic stop. Jones attorney says body cam shows it took him just 23 seconds to stop.
“It is unreasonable to assume that Mr. Jones was attempting to elude police when he drove under the posted speed limit for less than one block before coming to a complete stop,” the suppression motion says.
Jones' attorneys are also seeking to disqualify the prosecutor, Assistant State Prosecutor Leah Owens, saying her decision to show up at the scene of a traffic stop is “unheard of” and a clear “impropriety.”
That motion contends police didn’t have probable cause handcuff and detain Jones for 2½ hours, even as he was assured it was a “routine traffic stop.” (Jones was subsequently taken, in handcuffs, to the State Attorney’s Office for an additional two hours of questioning before being told he was under arrest for felony fleeing.)
The motion notes that Owens can be seen on body worn camera directing police to collect “evidence,” even though police themselves can be heard saying they didn’t see cause for arrest.
“It is still unclear why ASA Owens assisted Detectives on scene of a civil traffic stop for two hours, especially considering officers did not think they had ‘enough to arrest anybody,’” the motion says. “There is no evidence of a crime to be seized when a crime has yet to be committed, especially without a search warrant. It was ASA Owens who decided to act as an investigator by directing detectives to seize property despite none of the property owners being under lawful arrest.”
The motion continues, “it is unheard of to have a prosecutor on scene of a civil traffic stop to personally investigate and develop probable cause after detectives determined none existed.”
Owens previously told the judge that her presence at the scene was no different than showing up at the scene of a homicide. "Like a homicide scene, every single homicide case I have, I was present at the scene," Owens said. “I gave them advice about what to seize and what not to seize ... had discussions about the case in general."
But Jones’ attorney notes that unlike a homicide, this wasn’t a crime scene, and wouldn’t necessitate the presence of a criminal prosecutor.
Asked for comment on the new court filings, State Attorney's Office spokesperson David Chapman said, “For certain crimes such as homicides or arrests involving individuals associated with violent crime in our community, it is routine practice for prosecutors to respond to crime scenes and assist law enforcement investigations. The state believes it will prevail.”
Jones has been a key figure in a bloody rivalry between two Jacksonville gangs. He's affiliated with the gang known as KTA, which is bitter foes with ATK, the express affiliate of another Jacksonville rapper, Yungeen Ace.
Yungeen Ace, who's given name is Kenyatta Bullard, is the sole survivor of a quadruple shooting on Town Center Parkway in 2018 that claimed the life of his brother and two best friends. Bullard himself was shot eight times. He survived another attempt on his life in Georgia in 2019.
In one of Yungeen Ace's biggest hits, "Who I Smoke," he raps with a few other performers about people they've allegedly killed, including Adrien Gainer, aka Bibby. Bibby was Foolio's best friend, and was 16 when he was shot and killed.