Judge rules rapper A$AP Rocky must stand trial on felony charges he fired gun at former friend

Judge rules rapper A$AP Rocky must stand trial on felony charges he fired gun at former friend

A Los Angeles judge has ruled that there is enough evidence A$AP Rocky must stand trial for allegations that he fired a gun at a former friend and collaborator outside a Hollywood hotel in 2021.

Superior Court Judge M.L. Villar made the ruling at a preliminary hearing, after hearing roughly a day and a half of testimony.

Rocky has pleaded not guilty to two felony counts of assault with a semiautomatic firearm. His attorney attempted to cast doubt on the case while questioning a police detective.

Villar said “the totality of the video and testimony” shows there is sufficient evidence for the defendant to go to trial. She emphasized that preliminary hearings have a much lower evidence standard than a trial.

“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.”

On the first day of the hearing, which resumed Monday after a long delay, Terell Ephron testified that he and Rocky, a friend since childhood, had belonged to the same collective of musicians and artists at their New York high school.

He said their relationship had started to go sour and resulted in the standoff in Hollywood on 6 November 2021, when he said Rocky first pulled a gun on him, and in a later confrontation fired shots 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 while questioning a police detective earlier Monday that seven officers who searched a sidewalk and street about 20 minutes after the shots were allegedly fired found no evidence of the shooting, and that a pair of 9mm shell casings in police possession were recovered by Ephron, who returned to the scene about an hour after the standoff.

Tacopina played a body camera video of the officers, who searched the ground for about 10 minutes. Ephron, who first went to the police to report the incident two days later, turned over the shell casings, which the detective said had no recoverable fingerprints on them.



Prosecutors played a video from near the scene where no people are initially visible, but what sounds like two gunshots can be heard. Then a man comes running around a corner, then slows to a walk. The man’s identity is not clear in the video, but LAPD detective Frank Flores testified they had established it was Rocky.

Flores testified that no 9mm pistol was recovered when a search warrant was served on Rocky.


Prosecutors showed a still from surveillance video showing a man in a hooded sweatshirt whose face is not visible holding what appears to be a gun, along with another image from the same video showing the face of the man in the sweatshirt, with no gun visible. Flores testified that the images led them to establish it was Rocky.


Tacopina, who is also representing Donald Trump in his New York criminal case, pressed the detective on the weapon, suggesting police had no way of knowing whether it was a loaded or even real gun.


“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.


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