Kodak Black’s Court Hearing Takes a Surprise Turn
This past Friday (April 21), court hearings proceeded to decide whether 19-year-old Florida rapper Kodak Black, born Dieuson Octave, would be sentenced to jail time for violating his house arrest. Atlantic Records executives were present once more in the Fort Lauderdale courtroom when the hearing took place, but there was an unexpected turn in the proceedings. An employee who works at the strip club where a bartender says she was attacked by Kodak Black refutes those claims and says the rapper actually never assaulted the bartender.
Jennifer Cunningham, a bartender at Club Lexx, claimed during the initial court hearing Wednesday that Kodak stood on the bar, blocking her access to the cooler where she gets drinks for customers. She said she asked him politely to get down from the bar, allegedly prompting Kodak to put his fingers in a gun formation and stick them to her temple. Cunningham claims after pushing Kodak away, he started swinging at her and even kicked her in the shoulder. Pressed by Gary Kollin, one of Octave's lawyers, as to why she waited two weeks to seek medical attention, Cunningham conceded she was looking to pursue a civil lawsuit, but also said she filed an incident report with Miami-Dade police the day it happened, before she enlisted attorneys.
"Basically, I was a victim and assaulted by a gentleman that had no right to put his hands on me,” said Cunningham. “And I don’t tolerate that.”
But during the second hearing on Friday, another employee at the strip club, Tonya Durham, said she never saw any of that happen. The Sun Sentinel reports Durham took the stand and said Cunningham wasn't telling the truth about her encounter with Kodak. “She said, ‘You probably didn’t see it, but he mushed my face,’” said Durham, recalling a conversation she had with Cunningham the morning after the incident. “I said ‘no, he didn’t.’ None of that happened.”
Durham also said she was not being paid by anyone on Kodak's team or anyone who represents him.
Prosecutors are looking to sentence the Florida rapper to eight years behind bars if they can prove the assault allegations, and six years if they can only prove he violated his house arrest. Kodak's lawyers contend his visits to Club Lexx and a boxing match in Ohio were for work purposes, but if they were nonetheless never pre-approved by his probation officer Sandra Friedman, he might be in a bind.
In court on Wednesday, Friedman told Judge Michael Lynch Kodak is "polite" and "honest," but said he failed to abide by the conditions of his house arrest, which bound him to a house in Pembroke Pines unless it was for authorized work purposes, and claimed he failed to complete mandated anger management classes. “At 19, I don’t think he has a mentality yet to be able to handle everything being thrown at him at once,” Friedman said. “I think he needs some people who are looking out for his interests. He needs to deal with his problems and he definitely needs anger management.”
On Friday, Kodak's anger management counselor Ramona Sanchez accused him of intentionally disrupting group sessions by repeatedly burping. Sanchez said she asked him to leave, but he refused, and when she threatened to call 911, she claims he grabbed her phone and her wrist.
Allan Stephen Zamren, Kodak's other lawyer, asked Sanchez if she was aware of whether Kodak has a medical condition that causes uncontrollable belching. She said she didn't know. Zamren also pointed out Sanchez didn't want to throw the rapper out of her program, but rather recommended individual sessions.
Asked in court on Wednesday whether he accepted a plea deal from the prosecution for a maximum of eight years in exchange for the case being resolved, Kodak said, "Yeah, I reject."
Kodak's debut album Painting Pictures debuted at No. 3 on the Billboard Top 200 chart after its released on March 21, selling 71,000 copies first week. Read our in-depth piece about the making of the album right here.
Hearings are set to continue this Wednesday (April 26). Watch a news report from a local ABC affiliate below for more details.
Reporter Live Tweets Kodak Black's First Court Hearing for House Arrest Violation