Another member of country rapper Mikel Knight’s “Maverick Dirt Road Street Team” is in legal hot water after yet another injury accident involving one of the artist’s numerous street team vans.
On Wednesday, June 1st, Mikel Knight’s street teams were fanned out across eastern Oklahoma, and western Missouri, preparing for the country rapper’s 2nd live concert in the last three years in Joplin, MO. It was in the small town of Vinita, Oklahoma where an unlicensed driver, Jonathan Goff, behind the wheel of a Mikel Knight Street Team van, T-boned an elderly woman in a small Nissan pickup on State Highway 60-69 (see picture below). The elderly woman was taken to a local hospital via ambulance, while Goff was arrested for driving without a valid driver’s license, failure to yield, and sent to the Craig County Jail.
However in a strange twist to the incident, and illustrative of the environment surrounding Mikel Knight and his street team workers, Jonathan Goff told local police chief Bobby Floyd that he felt fortunate.
“The poor guy actually seemed relieved to have lost his job with them from having the accident,” Floyd told the Vinita Daily Journal.
Chief Floyd says that during an interview with Jonathan Goff, he corroborated what many other former street team members have said about Mikel Knight’s operation, that when street team members don’t make lofty and sometimes unrealistic sales goals, they ultimately owe money to Mikel for use of the vans and other materials, and are threatened or strong-armed into staying in an environment of indentured servitude to the country rapper. Other street team members have previously claimed they were left on the side of the road by street teams, sometimes many miles from their homes without money or their possessions for under-performance.
“They are more than a nuisance than anything else, but it’s sad when someone is relieved to get arrested just to get away from a group like that,” says Chief Floyd.
The accident was the second run-in with Vinita police that day. Earlier on June 1st, another street team van was set up at the local O’Reilly Automotive. When police were called and asked the group for a local peddler’s permit, they packed up and left town. It is common for street teams to be either asked to leave local municipalities for not having proper sales licenses, or for street team members to be arrested on small drug or probation violations when locals call police.
However much larger incidents have also checkered Mikel Knight’s past, and have given his street teams the reputation as a dangerous work environment where members are asked to work long hours, resulting in fatigue that has been blamed in numerous accidents with injuries, and the deaths of two street team members. Taylor Robert Nixon and Robert Joseph Underfinger III were both killed in the a June 16th, 2014 accident blamed on driver fatigue. The manager of the street team and one other individual were also injured in the incident. And an account by former street team member Ky Rodgers from July 2014, who was also injured in an accident blamed on fatigue, is what started widespread concern about the practices and policies surrounding Mikel Knight’s street team members. Another street team member, Dustin K. Finley, died of an overdose on the prescription opioid drug Fentanyl on December 6th, 2015.
On June 4th, Mikel Knight played a show a Joplin Memorial Hall—his 2nd official concert in over three years, despite numerous promises of upcoming tours that never materialized. Part of the reason for Mikel Knight’s lack of touring is though to stem from the country rapper being on parole in Tennessee for an aggravated assault charge, and unable to leave the state—one of numerous assaults and other legal issues that checker the country rapper’s past. Knight’s parole is thought to have ended recently.
Despite the Joplin concert being Mikel Knight’s first concert in many years, and having an estimated 30 to 40 street team members in Joplin for four days selling tickets to the show beforehand, only an estimated 150 people showed up to the 3,000-capacity venue, including the street team members and others from the Mikel Knight entourage, according to local reports. Though there were some safety concerns from locals surrounding the concert, according to local reports, the concert went off without any major incidents.
Saving Country Music reached out to Mikel Knight and his management for comment on this story, and those requests were not returned. But Mikel Knight long denies the accusations against him by former street team members, blaming the fact that he hires at risk and troubled young men for his street teams who are apt to turn against him if they become disgruntled. Mikel Knight claims to run a faith-based organization that gives certain amounts of proceeds from sales to charities.
Picture of elderly woman T-boned by Mikel Knight street team van: