Last week David Cunningham a.k.a. Dun Deal, the Atlanta producer behind tracks like "Hannah Montana" by Migos and Young Thug's "Stoner," received a $300,000 settlement from the City of Augusta, Georgia after police fabricated evidence against him in a 2015 robbery. The ordeal has cost Dun Deal a lot more than just 10 days of jail time: it has stalled his career, made him distrustful of associates, and unfairly marked him as a potential FBI informant.
Cunningham described what happened in an interview with CBS 46. After accepting a Facebook friend request from a woman named Ronnica Westmoreland, Cunningham was quickly implicated in the robbery of a jewelry store in Augusta, a city Deal said he's "never" been to. "[The investigators] went on her Facebook page, found everyone who was named David, they found a black man with a lot of jewelry on and jumped to the conclusion that it must be it," said James Ratford, one of Deal's attorneys.
Police claimed they had Cunningham's fingerprints, but the producer had never been arrested prior to this incident. The officers who fabricated evidence were "disciplined," with one forced to resign. The FADER spoke to Dun Deal over the phone about this incident, and how it has affected his career.
Dun Deal: This entire thing began when I was at an African awards show in Texas with Davido. My mom calls me and says that the FBI was at my house. She gave me the number for the agent and I called him. He sounded kind of suspicious, but I pretty much said, "What do you guys need? Do you need me to come in?” And he was like, “We know your flight is coming back [to Atlanta] tomorrow." So I said that I would come in at six. I went to the airport in the morning, and as I’m walking to get my ticket, all of a sudden there are seven or eight FBI agents around me with guns in my face, asking if I’m David.
I ended up in a jail out in Dallas Fort Worth county for 10 days. During that time, I told them that the day the robbery happened, I was at Darp Studios in Atlanta, and that they can see it on video. Instead of going there and just asking for the video, the FBI threw tear gas in, pried open the gate, and started pointing guns at everybody. They didn’t even get the video. Darp Studios didn’t file a complaint or anything, but they should have. They ended up just selling the studio. Now Darp is Hot Beats. I think the raid was partially because of that.
So I’m in jail while this is happening, and I’m thinking, “How am I even part of this situation?” All I’ve been doing is making music. Before this I’ve never been arrested in my life. Now, they’ve got me in jail with convicted killers, rapists. Then when I found out they raided the studio, it felt like all the bad shit that could happen was going all at once. I really have anxiety when it comes to police. I’ve just been trying to stay under the radar and not be in the public eye, because you never know what’s going to happen. For this shit to happen out of nowhere, it just makes me think of all the other things that could’ve happened.
“When you get arrested by the FBI and are released in 10 days, people think you’re a snitch. But I want people to know that I’ve never done anything to be affiliated with the FBI.”
My first day in jail, I got in a fight, because they wanna try the new guy. My cellmate, told me, “It’s better that you got in a fight now because no one’s going to try you like that again.” A few of the guards knew who I was and brought me extra food and shit. That was cool. But jail was not easy, it was not fun. Every day it was me thinking to myself that this could last longer and longer. Within five days, they knew I didn’t do it. They didn’t have any fingerprints on me because I’ve never been arrested, and they [eventually] saw the video from the studio to know I wasn’t there. But they still made me stay in there another five days. At first I was thinking that each day would be my last day in there, but after I knew they saw the video I started thinking, Damn, I could really just be in here. I feel like I was kidnapped by the government.
My dad is a police officer, so he knows the system. He worked in New York for 30 years; he’s got medals and all types of stuff. He came out [to Atlanta] to retire as a cop, and has realized that the system out here is a little more jagged than New York. He couldn’t believe it. He said [my situation] was unheard of. He’s never had to deal with a situation like this, ever, where they pick you up because of Facebook.
I got the papers from my case after I got out. The girl that said I was part of the robbery, they kind of forced her to say that. She said about three or four times, “That’s not the guy,” and then finally, they have it in there, that she identified me. These police officers, both of them should have been fired or jailed, because they tried to ruin my life. The FBI confiscated my music equipment and kept it at the headquarters in Atlanta. When I got back I needed it to work, but they kept it for a month after I got out of prison. I wasn’t able to do anything. And they were totally unapologetic: “Stuff like this happens.” Even after I was cleared, the agent who had me arrested was like “How’d you get out?"
There wasn’t any celebration or anything when I got back to Atlanta. To be honest, I still didn’t know what was going on and how it happened, so I didn’t really trust a lot of people. Because I didn’t know anything about the case at the time, I just knew I was in jail, and somebody was saying I was part of this robbery. I thought I was set up. I’m glad that I’ve been cleared and vindicated, but a lot of people stopped working with me because of that situation. After they raided the studio, they told people there, like Young Thug, all these lies. They said I was in Texas with a minor, and that I was a diamond thief. “You don’t know who you’re hanging around, he can get you arrested.” So if you’re part of this rap industry, and you smoke marijuana or do drugs and know there’s somebody around that, at any time, could bring the FBI to bust up your studio or hit you in your house, why would you hang around that person? If it was me, and I was looking at somebody who had all the issues I’ve had, I don’t know if I’d wanna work with them either. When you get arrested by the FBI and are released in 10 days, people think you're a snitch. But I want people to know that I've never done anything to be affiliated with the FBI. The fact that they raided the studio makes it look like I snitched; I just told them to get the video.
Me and Thug started together. I've known him since 2006, and for something like this to ruin that relationship really put me in a bad situation. Me and my production group, The Remedy, had done 14 songs for Rich Gang: Tha Tour Pt. 1, and that’s when this shit is happening. I’m doing all these great songs, the music’s going great, and then the police just totally destroy my relationships. I haven’t talked to Birdman since. If they reach out they reach out, but it’s hard to get in contact with people if you don’t know their new number. I talked to Thug in California and played him a beat, and we worked on a song, but we haven’t really had a chance to talk about what happened.
I don’t feel like the settlement was enough, and that’s why I’m going after the FBI. I’m sure Augusta had the money to pay for their mistakes, but they didn’t want to give me what I was owed. But right now, me and C4 are coming out with a mixtape, I’m working with Trouble, Peewee Longway, Gucci Mane. Me and Quavo and the Migos have a really good relationship; I'm helping out with their album. I’m still out here making it happen, but I’m just now getting to the point where people are cool with working with me again. The other day I went to 2 Chainz's restaurant, Escobar, and he came up to me and said, "I heard what happened. I'm sorry, let's work." It's going to work, I know I'm gonna get back in there. But there are other people that this shit happens to that don't get out of jail because they can't get people on their side. It's just a sad situation because, in lieu of evidence, it happened because I am black.