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DaBaby Pursues LAPD ‘Bias’ Defense in Felony Battery Case

As DaBaby heads toward trial for felony battery in Los Angeles, the rapper is seeking detailed personnel records for the controversial Los Angeles Police Department (LAPD) detective who investigated the claim DaBaby sucker-punched a 64-year-old man who tried to break up a video shoot at a rented mansion three years ago.

DaBaby, whose legal name is Jonathan Kirk, believes the records will uncover evidence that LAPD Det. Brett Hayhoe, the lead detective on his case, engaged in acts of “misconduct or bias,” court filings obtained by Rolling Stone reveal. DaBaby and his defense lawyers claim prosecutors sent them an email last year stating Det. Hayhoe allegedly had “information” in his employment file that might be “potentially exculpatory or used for impeachment.”

According to filings, defense lawyers believe Kirk has a constitutional right to review Hayhoe’s records to uncover “any and all evidence of dishonesty, moral turpitude and/or improper investigative techniques.” The lawyers argue Hayhoe’s character and history are important because he put together an allegedly questionable six-man photographic lineup for a critical witness in their client’s case. They allege the lineup included a picture of Kirk and five other men who “did not fit the eyewitness’ description of the subject.” The lawyers further allege Hayhoe had a notable gap in his police reports as he investigated the claim Kirk attacked alleged victim Gary Pagar on Dec. 2, 2020.

Last June, Hayhoe was faulted for breaking LAPD policy when he shot at an unarmed mentally ill man from inside his police cruiser, the Los Angeles Times reported. The victim was identified as Jermaine Petit, a 39-year-old Black man who died from his injuries.

On Monday, Los Angeles County Superior Court Judge Ray Jurado said he would grant Kirk’s request for the “written or recorded statements” of 17 people who previously filed complaints against Hayhoe, so long as Kirk’s defense had no luck reaching the people by the next hearing date in the case, set for next month. The LAPD opposed the disclosure, claiming Kirk was seeking unfettered access to confidential personnel records without trying hard enough to reach the complaining witnesses by mail. The LAPD did not immediately respond to Rolling Stone‘s request for comment on Monday regarding Kirk’s case and Hayhoe’s status with the department.

Kirk, 31, was charged with felony battery causing serious bodily injury by the Los Angeles County District Attorney in September 2021. He pleaded not guilty in April 2022. Along with the criminal complaint, he also was slapped with a lawsuit from Pagar in 2021. In his civil court claim, Pagar says he rented his six-bedroom luxury home to Kirk in November 2020 under a “vacation” lease that explicitly stated no more than 12 people could occupy the property.

Pagar alleges Kirk violated the agreement almost immediately, inviting some 40 people to the estate to film a video for the song “Play U Lay,” starring rapper Stunna 4 Vegas and social media personality Jake Paul. According to the complaint, Kirk and his entourage destroyed the home’s Nest security camera shortly after Pagar reached out and demanded that the commercial shoot be terminated.

When Pagar showed up in person to enforce the lease agreement, Kirk allegedly “sucker-punched (him) in the face, knocking out his tooth and leaving him bruised and bloodied,” the lawsuit states. Pagar claims Kirk and a group of unidentified men swarmed him in front of his house, “pushing him, shoving, spitting on him, threatening him, and taunting him.” He says Kirk and the men “tossed” his phone back and forth and scratched his car with keys.

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For his part, Kirk has claimed Pagar spat in his face and spewed a racial epithet, according to TMZ. The allegation of racist speech surfaced in discovery requests in the civil battle. That case is set for a trial setting conference on March 6. The court previously said Kirk had a Fifth Amendment right to refuse to sit for a deposition or answer any written discovery in the civil case, but Kirk’s September request to put the entire case on ice pending his criminal case was rejected.

Kirk, who drew widespread condemnation for homophobic remarks at Rolling Loud Miami two years ago, is facing up to four years in prison if convicted as charged in Los Angeles. He previously pleaded guilty to a misdemeanor charge of carrying a concealed weapon after he fatally shot 19-year-old Jaylin Craig at a North Carolina Walmart in 2018. The musician claimed self-defense, but the dead man’s family disputes that, claiming Kirk instigated the physical dispute that led up to the shooting. An exclusive video previously obtained by Rolling Stone appears to support the family’s claim.

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