Harrison County

Afroman headed to court with woman he punched at Kress Live

Rapper Afroman, aka Joseph Foreman, poses for a portrait in New York. The Mississippi native is accused of gross negligence, along with venue Kress Live in Biloxi, by a fan he punched while performing during Mardi Gras 2015.
Rapper Afroman, aka Joseph Foreman, poses for a portrait in New York. The Mississippi native is accused of gross negligence, along with venue Kress Live in Biloxi, by a fan he punched while performing during Mardi Gras 2015.

Rapper Afroman is headed to court unless he decides to settle a lawsuit filed against him and Kress Live by the woman he decked during a Fat Tuesday 2015 show at the now-defunct club.

Niceville, Florida, resident Haley Byrd is suing Kress Live and Afroman, aka Joseph Edgar Foreman, in County Court for gross negligence. She also accuses Afroman of assault and battery.

She is asking for damages to compensate her for physical injuries and for punitive damages, alleging “wanton disregard,” for the safety of patrons. County Court handles cases whose damages are limited to $200,000.

Judge Gaston Hewes Jr. is getting ready to set a trial date.

Byrd contends Kress Live continued serving the rapper alcoholic drinks, even though he was “visibly intoxicated.” She said Kress employees knew, or should have known, Afroman had a propensity for violence, particularly after drinking. An internet video showed him throwing a customer off another stage during a December 2014 performance, the lawsuit says.

Afroman said in his response to the lawsuit, filed by Biloxi attorney James L. Farrior III, that Byrd was at fault. Further, he claims, Kress Live’s security was inadequate for the show.

Kress Live denies any fault, saying management could not have predicted what happened. Afroman at first seemed to tolerate the woman dancing while he rapped, Biloxi attorney Nathan Prescott said in the response for Kress.

Video shows that Byrd got onto the stage and shimmied against Afroman while he was focused on his guitar licks. He turned toward her and landed a right hook to her jaw, knocking her to the floor.

Kress said security immediately whisked Afroman out the door, where he was arrested for assault. He was later convicted and agreed to attend anger-management classes.

Afroman has created a rap video that appears to be based on the incident. It’s called “Stay Off the Stage.” The video is set in a courtroom.

The rap is loaded with curse words, but one memorable and repeatable line goes like this: “I know you want to show everybody your hooters but please don’t spill beer on my computers.”

Afroman was repentant when he later discussed the incident with the website TMZ. He apologized, but excused his behavior:

“I love my fans …. It was an early show. I usually play at night, and I’ve had my dinner and, you know, I medicate, I get right. But it was an early show.

“It was Mardi Gras — I had to walk, like, a half a mile to get to the place. I had my ‘flustrations,’ to make a long story short.”

Byrd’s attorney, Tim Holleman of Gulfport, told the Sun Herald: “Afroman needs to behave himself. I’m not sure he’s there yet.”

Anita Lee: 228-896-2331, @calee99

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