Method Man Pepper-Sprayed And Jailed After Autograph Session

Wu-Tang rapper allegedly fled police after impromptu signing for fans moved into street.

Wu-Tang Clan rapper Method Man was pepper-sprayed and then arrested by police in

Memphis, Tenn., early Sunday morning during an impromptu autograph-signing session

that police say grew out of control.

The 27-year-old rapper, who pleaded guilty Monday to misdemeanor charges of

obstructing traffic and resisting official detention, spent two hours in lockup before being

released on what police spokeswoman Debbie Hall described as "minimal" bail of less

than $500.

Method Man (born Clifford Smith) entered the guilty plea in Shelby County General

Sessions Criminal Court. He was sentenced to a single day's jail term and released for

time served, court spokesman Charles Jackson said.

The incident began shortly after 1 a.m. Sunday, when Method Man, in town for MTV's

Sports And Music Festival, began signing autographs at the intersection of Third Street

and Union Avenue, police said. The spontaneous signing then proceeded into Third

Street with a crowd of fans in tow, attracting the attention of officers.

When police saw that the rapper, known for such songs as

href="http://media.addict.com/atn-bin/get-

music/Method_Man/Bring_The_Pain.ram">"Bring The Pain" (RealAudio

excerpt), had a bottle of what appeared to be alcohol in his hands, they approached him,

Hall said.

"He was walking between all three lanes of traffic, causing traffic to stop and enticing

bystanders to come into the street," she said. "When police approached, he refused to

stop, cursed police and ran to a restaurant."

The crowd then stepped in, Hall said, blocking police from following Method Man into the

restaurant. An officer confronted the member of the notorious Wu-Tang Clan outside the

adjoining Radisson Hotel.

"The officer was afraid that he was going to be struck with a hard plastic flashlight that

Smith had in his hands, so he sprayed him with pepper gas," Hall said.

After Method Man was taken into police custody, he spent two hours in Shelby County

jail and was released at 4 a.m. The jail time was counted as complete time served for the

single-day sentence imposed for the charges, Jackson said.

Neither Peter Frankel, the rapper's lawyer, nor Method Man's record company, Loud

Records, returned calls about the incident by press time.

The Memphis arrest was only the latest legal run-in for Method Man, who is scheduled to

release his second solo album, Tical 2: Judgment Day, on Nov. 17.

In October 1997, Method Man, Wu-Tang leader RZA (born Robert Diggs) and rapper

Redman were sued for $5 million by a woman who claims Method Man injured her when

he jumped from the stage during a 1995 concert outside Philadelphia. That case

remains at a standstill because, according to the plaintiff's lawyer, Neil Mittelman, they

have been unable to locate Method Man to serve him with court papers.

Meanwhile, in Tinley Park, Ill., the Wu-Tang Clan -- minus members Ol' Dirty Bastard

(born Russell Jones) and GZA (born Greg Grice) -- face a $2 million lawsuit brought in

October 1997 by a Loud Records employee who said the group beat him in a dressing

room during an August 1997 tour stop. In that case, only Method Man and RZA have thus

far been served with court papers, according to Jim Zouras, the plaintiff's lawyer.

Also, earlier this year, the New York City district attorney in Manhattan dropped

misdemeanor assault charges against Method Man.