A Los Angeles court has ruled that A$AP Rocky must stand trial in 2021 on charges that he discharged a gun at a former buddy and colleague outside a Hollywood hotel.
After hearing nearly a day and a half of testimony, Superior Court Judge M.L. Villar issued the ruling during a preliminary hearing.
Rocky has entered a not guilty plea to two charges of felony assault with a semiautomatic pistol. While questioning a police detective, his lawyers attempted to cast doubt on the case.
According to Villar, “the totality of the video and testimony” suggests that there is enough evidence for the defendant to proceed to trial. She underlined that preliminary hearings had a significantly lower burden of proof than trials.
“We’re not disappointed, not surprised, we expected to go to trial, we’ve been planning for trial all along,” Rocky’s attorney, Joe Tacopina, said outside court. “Rocky is going to be vindicated when all this is said and done, without question.”
Terell Ephron said on the first day of the trial, which resumed Monday after a lengthy delay, that he and Rocky, a boyhood buddy, belonged to the same collective of musicians and artists at their New York high school.
He claimed their relationship had soured, resulting in the Hollywood standoff on November 6, 2021, when Rocky first pulled a gun on him and later fired rounds that grazed Ephron’s knuckles.
“You need nothing more than Mr Ephron’s testimony by itself,” deputy district attorney Paul Przelomiec told the judge before her ruling, adding that the surveillance video that captured parts of the incident “corroborates exactly what Mr Ephron said”.
Tacopina countered that “there are some real problems with the testimony of the complainant,” adding: “I think there’s not enough evidence.”
Tacopina established during questioning of a police detective earlier Monday that seven officers who searched a sidewalk and street about 20 minutes after the alleged shooting found no evidence of the shooting, and that Ephron recovered a pair of 9mm shell casings in police possession after returning to the scene about an hour after the standoff.
Tacopina showed a footage of the officers’ body cameras as they combed the ground for nearly 10 minutes. Ephron, who went to the police two days later to report the event, turned over the shot casings, which the investigator said had no readable fingerprints on them.
Prosecutors showed a video from near the site in which no persons are visible at first but two gunshots can be heard. Then a man runs around a corner and slows to a stroll. The video does not reveal the man’s identify, but LAPD detective Frank Flores said that they had determined it was Rocky.
Flores stated that when a search warrant was served on Rocky, no 9mm pistol was found.
Prosecutors displayed a still from security video showing a man in a hooded sweatshirt with his face hidden carrying what seems to be a gun, as well as another image from the same video showing the man’s face with no gun visible. Flores said that the visuals convinced them it was Rocky.
Tacopina, who also represents Donald Trump in his criminal case in New York, grilled the detective on the weapon, implying that police had no way of knowing whether it was a loaded or even real pistol.
“That gun or whatever it was was not tested, right?” Tacopina asked. “No, it was never recovered,” Flores said.
Tacopina asked: “You’re not sure if it’s an operable gun or a non-operable gun or whatever?”
“Without having it, I can’t tell you whether it’s operable,” the detective replied.
Tacopina also tried to cast doubt on the minor injury to Ephron’s hand, questioning why he waited until he returned to New York to seek medical treatment.
He showed the detective a photo of the scraped fingers and said, sarcastically: “It’s a miracle he survived that shooting.”
The judge admonished him, one of several times she told Tacopina to change his tone.
Rocky was arrested at Los Angeles International Airport in the case in April, and charged in August.