LOS ANGELES – A Los Angeles Judge ruled on Monday that A$AP Rocky can stand trial for charges that he shot a gun outside a Hollywood Hotel in 2021 at a former colleague.
Judge M.L. Villar’s decision was made at a preliminarily hearing after approximately a day-and-a-half of testimony. Rocky has pleaded guilty to two counts of felony assault with a firearm semiautomatic.
Villar stated that “the video and the testimony in total” show there is enough evidence to allow the defendant to proceed to trial. She stressed that the standard of evidence for preliminary hearings is much lower than at a trial.
Rocky, seated in the courtroom showed no visible reactions.
Joe Tacopina’s lawyer, Rocky, stated outside the court: “We are not disappointed or surprised. We expected to go to trial. We’ve planned for trial all along.” “Rocky will be vindicated after all is said and done without question.”
Terell Ephron, who has been friends with Rocky since childhood, testified on the first day of hearings, which began Monday after a lengthy delay. He said that Rocky and he were members of the same group of musicians and artist at their New York High School.
He claimed that their relationship began to deteriorate and led to the Hollywood standoff on Nov. 6, 2102, where he said Rocky had first drawn a gun and fired shots in a subsequent confrontation which grazed Ephron’s knuckles.
Tacopina, while interviewing a detective, established that seven officers searched a street and sidewalk about 20 minutes after alleged shots were fired and found no evidence. Ephron recovered a pair 9 mm casings that were in police possession when he returned to the scene an hour after standoff.
Tacopina showed the body-camera video of the officers who had searched the ground for 10 minutes. Ephron went to the police two days after the shooting to report it. She handed over the shell casings that the detective claimed had no fingerprints.
The prosecutors showed a video taken near the scene, where initially no one is visible but two gunshots are heard. A man then runs around the corner and slows down to walk. Although the man’s name is not clearly visible in the video footage, LAPD Detective Frank Flores said that they had established that it was Rocky.
Flores stated under Tacopina’s questioning, that Rocky was not searched when the search warrant was issued.
The prosecutors showed a still of a surveillance video that shows a man wearing a sweatshirt with a hood, whose face was not visible, holding what appeared to be a firearm. They also showed another image, which revealed the face of the person in the sweatshirt but did not show the gun. Flores said that they were able to identify Rocky from the combination of images.
Tacopina – who also represents Donald Trump in New York criminal cases and others – pressed the detective about the weapon. He suggested that police had no idea whether the gun was loaded or real.
Tacopina asked, “That gun or whatever was it? It was not tested right?” Flores replied, “No. It was never recovered.”
Tacopina said, “You aren’t sure if this is an operable or non-operable weapon or whatever?”
The detective responded, “I can’t tell you if it’s working without having it.”
Tacopina questioned why Ephron waited to get medical attention until he was back in New York.
He showed a picture of his scraped finger and said sarcastically “It is a miracle that he survived the shooting.”
Tacopina was admonished by the judge, who told him to change his tone several times.
Rocky was arrested in April at Los Angeles International Airport and charged by August. After spending the weekend in Las Vegas at the Formula One Las Vegas Grand Prix, Rocky arrived Monday wearing sunglasses and a mask. He also had a significant role as Puma’s creative director for the clothing brand’s partnership with F1.
In recent years he has not released much music. He is better known for being Rihanna ‘s coparent, his romantic partner and fellow fashion influencer. They had their second son together in May. In 2013 and 2015, his first two studio albums both reached No. Billboard 200. His first two studio albums in 2013 and 2015 both reached No.
Rocky was also an unlikely cause when then-President Donald Trump said that he wanted to free the rapper and return him to the U.S. after he was imprisoned in Sweden following a fight in 2019 Rocky was convicted of assault in court, but given a conditional sentence that did not include additional prison time.
These preliminary hearings are like a miniature trial in California courts. Only the judge decides if there is enough evidence to proceed. The standard for proving this is much lower than that required to prove criminal guilt.