Kodak Black appeared in a Fort Lauderdale courtroom on Wednesday (April 19) for a hearing to determine whether he’d stay behind bars for violating his house arrest earlier this year.
Prosecutors are aiming to prove that not only did Black, whose given name is Dieuson Octave, violate the terms of his house arrest, but that he also assaulted a bartender during what authorities allege was an unauthorized trip to a Miami strip club in February.
If the prosecutors are able to prove to a judge that the assault occurred, they are asking that Octave, 19, be sentenced to eight years — or 98 months — in state prison.
If they can’t prove that, but can show that Octave violated his conditions, they are asking for six years.
Asked in court if he was rejecting the state’s offer to resolve the case in exchange for a maximum sentence of eight years in prison, Octave said, “Yeah, I reject.”
Nothing has been proven yet, and ultimately Judge Michael Lynch will decide whether Octave is guilty of wrongdoing or not — and what type of sentencing he would face, if any.
Octave, wearing a tan jail-issue jumpsuit, entered the courtroom just after 1:30 p.m. As he took a seat, his mother Marcelene Octave, who was among the spectators, said, “Hi, son.”
Also in the courtroom were at least three executives from Kodak Black’s label, Atlantic Records, including the company’s vice president of business and legal affairs, Michael Kushner. (Kushner declined to comment afterward.)
Friends and other relatives were also in the court.
Octave is accused of six counts of flouting the rules of his house arrest. He’s accused of going to various places, including a Miami strip club and a boxing match in Ohio, without the permission of his corrections officer.
As a part of a plea deal struck in August 2016 over a slew of charges he’d been facing, Octave was given a year of house arrest and five years of probation. He was ordered to remain confined to his house in Pembroke Pines; the only exception being that he could leave, but only with permission from his probation officer, for work-related endeavors, for example recording or performing.
Kollin and Zamren dispute the allegations. They contend their client was working when he appeared at the strip club and boxing match, as they were both promotional appearances. They’ve cited misunderstandings as a factor.
“We are vigorously defending this,” Zamren said after Octave was arrested Feb. 28 on the violation allegations that were being contested in Wednesday’s hearing.
Sandra Friedman, the Florida Department of Corrections officer handling Octave’s case, was the first witness to take the stand Wednesday. She testified that not only has Octave failed to abide by his conditions, including his failure to complete an anger management program, but that he needs more people around him who have his interests at heart instead of their own.
“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.”
But Friedman also said she has a good relationship with Octave, and that he’s “very polite” and “honest” with her.
“I think he needs to go into counseling immediately,” Friedman said. “I think he’s aware of what’s going to happen if he doesn’t.”
A former bartender at Club Lexx, a Miami-Dade strip club now known as Club Climaxx, also testified, alleging that Octave assaulted her when he showed up at the club on Feb. 2.
Jennifer Cunningham said the rapper got up on the bar while she was working, preventing her from accessing a cooler to serve drinks to customers. She said she asked him, politely, to get down from the bar, but that Octave made a handgun gesture with two fingers and pushed them against her temple. She said she pushed him away, and that he started swinging at her and kicked her near her right shoulder.
In cross-examination, Kollin questioned Cunningham about why she sought medical attention two weeks later, only after enlisting civil attorneys to assist in a potential lawsuit.
While Cunningham eventually conceded she was interested in pursuing a civil case against Octave, she said she filed an incident report with Miami-Dade police the day of the incident and before she met her civil attorneys.
“Basically, I was a victim and assaulted by a gentleman that had no right to put his hands on me,” Cunningham said. “And I don’t tolerate that.”
No formal charges have been filed in the alleged strip club assault. But the allegations can still be used in Octave’s violation hearing.
Octave was also currently out on bail in connection with allegations against him in South Carolina. In that case, which is ongoing, he is accused of sexually assaulting a female fan in a hotel room. As a result he faces a charge of criminal sexual conduct, which carries a maximum sentence of 30 years.
Meanwhile, Kodak Black’s debut album for Atlantic Records, “Painting Pictures,” peaked at No. 3 on the Billboard 200 albums chart after its March 31 release. It has since fallen to No. 8.
Black grew up in the Golden Acres public housing development, off Hammondville Rd./Dr. Martin Luther King Blvd., between Andrews Avenue and Powerline Rd., in Pompano Beach.
He frequently references the area in his songs, peppering his lyrics with mentions of the “1800 block” (the road into Golden Acres is NW 18th Dr.) and the “Ugly Corner,” a longtime nickname for the eyesore that was the small strip of businesses that faces the road at an angle.
Before he became a nationally known rapper, a young Kodak Black would stand outside Omi’z, a hip-hop clothing store there, and pass out CDs of his music.
In recent years the area has undergone somewhat of a face-lift, so it’s not quite as ugly anymore.
As Wednesday’s hearing was ending, and Kodak Black’s supporters were filing out, the rapper looked to them, smiled, and said, “Love, love. Alright, you all be safe.”
Octave is back in court at 1:30 p.m. on Friday.