Meek Mill is a free man.
After serving five months in prison at Pennsylvania State Correctional Institution at Graterford in Montgomery County, the rapper, born Robert Rihmeek William, was released on Tuesday.
Hours later, he shared a video of an awaiting helicopter and was spotted leaving the correctional facility in the chopper. Not long after, Mill had a homecoming-like reception at the Wells Fargo Center ahead of the hometown team’s Game 5 against the Miami Heat. (Mill also served as the pregame bell ringer.)
“I’d like to thank God, my family, my friends, my attorneys, my team at Roc Nation including JAY-Z, Desiree Perez, my good friend Michael Rubin, my fans, The Pennsylvania Supreme Court and all my public advocates for their love, support and encouragement during this difficult time,” Mill said in a statement obtained by PEOPLE, which was also tweeted by the hitmaker.
“While the past five months have been a nightmare, the prayers, visits, calls, letters and rallies have helped me stay positive. To the Philadelphia District Attorney’s office, I’m grateful for your commitment to justice – not only for my case but for others that have been wrongfully jailed due to police misconduct,” he continued.
“Although I’m blessed to have the resources to fight this unjust situation, I understand that many people of color across the country don’t have that luxury and I plan to use my platform to shine a light on those issues. In the meantime, I plan to work closely with my legal team to overturn this unwarranted conviction and look forward to reuniting with my family and resuming my music career,” Mill concluded his statement.
“As our office has made clear in recent court filings, the Pa. Supreme Court’s decision on Meek Mill being released on bail is consistent with the position of the Philadelphia District Attorney’s Office,” a spokesperson for the Philadelphia District Attorney’s Office told PEOPLE in a statement.
In December, Pennsylvania Common Pleas Court Judge Genece Brinkley denied Mill’s request for a bail hearing. But on Tuesday, the Supreme Court of Philadelphia made the decision to overrule Judge Brinkley.
One of Mill’s lawyers, Joe Tacopina, told PEOPLE on Tuesday, “We are thrilled that the Pennsylvania Supreme Court has directed Judge Brinkley to immediately issue an order releasing Meek on bail. As we have said all along, Meek was unjustly convicted and should not have spent a single day in jail.”
Adding, “We are also pleased that the Pennsylvania Supreme Court has noted that Judge Brinkley may opt to remove herself from presiding over any further proceedings in Meek’s case in the interests of justice. Meek is excited to be reunited with his family, and we, along with Meek, intend to continue to shine the light on a justice system in need of reform to prevent any other citizen from being put through what Meek has endured.”
Mill was previously in jail for eight months and on probation for five years due to a 2008 conviction for gun and drug charges. In 2016, Mill was placed under 90 days of house arrest for violating probation due to unapproved travel.
In March 2017, he was charged with misdemeanor assault after an altercation with employees at St. Louis International Airport. The charges were dropped after he agreed to perform community service.
Then in August 2017, PEOPLE confirmed that Mill was charged with reckless endangerment in New York City. He later pleaded guilty to reckless driving.
After news of the November 2017 sentencing, many celebrities, including JAY-Z, voiced their support for Mill while criticizing the legal system.
In addition, a petition was created on Change.org, titled “Somebody Save Meek Mill,” that called for Tom Wolf, Governor of Pennsylvania, to reevaluate the rapper’s sentencing.
- Reporting by SARAH MICHAUD and NICOLE SANDS