How Friend Request from Stranger Put Innocent Man in Jail

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A casual friend request on Facebook by a total stranger would later come back to haunt Atlanta producer David Cunningham, a.k.a Dun Deal.

Police recently caught up with Ronnica Westmoreland, a suspect in a 2014 Costco robbery in Augusta, GA. Court records show Westmoreland rented the car used in the store’s $80,000 jewelry heist.

During questioning police squeezed Moreland for names.

“She said, ‘I loaned it to a guy named David.’ David is a pretty common name so they went to her Facebook page, found everyone named David. They found a black man who wears a lot of jewelry. So they jumped to the conclusion, that must be him,” said Cunningham’s attorney, James Radford.

As a music producer, Cunningham has crossed paths with numerous rappers. But to police who are unfamiliar with the hip hop culture, they only see ordinary thugs.

“The picture that they showed me of me was with Birdman. They asked me who that was. 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!'” said Cunningham.

The police warrant stated that Cunningham resembled one of the robbers in the security video. They claimed to have found his fingeprints, but prior to this incident, he had never been arrested. Therefore, that was a lie.

Police took it a step further and got the FBI involved when they decided to take Cunningham into custody. Believing the warrant was backed by solid evidence, the FBI grabbed Cunningham at the Dallas airport.

Describing the raid on his recording studio in Atlanta, he said, “They threw tear gas over the gate, put guns in people’s faces.”

With no opportunity to bond out, Cunningham was forced to remain in jail. When the four men from the robbery were caught and pleaded guilty to their crimes, all charges were finally dropped against Cunningham, and he was again a free man after 10 days in jail.

Westmoreland was charged with making false statements. The deputies who fabricated evidence were all discplined, one was forced to turn in his badge.

Cunningham will receive a $300,000 settlement for his wrongful arrest.

Cunningham’s defense attorney Caleb Gross had the following to say about the incident…

“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. It could have turned to 100. That’s how people get sucked into the system.

Cunningham’s unfortunate experience is further proof of how much power police have, and how devastating it can be if that power is misused.

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