A$AP Rocky must stand trial on charges of firing gun at former friend, judge rules
A Los Angeles judge ruled on Monday that there is enough evidence for A$AP Rocky to stand trial on charges that he fired a gun at a former friend and collaborator on the streets near a Hollywood hotel in 2021.
Superior court judge ML Villar made the ruling at at a preliminary hearing, after hearing roughly a day and a half of testimony from two witnesses. Rocky, who gave no visible reaction to the decision, has pleaded not guilty to two felony counts of assault with a semiautomatic firearm.
The 35-year-old rapper, fashion mogul and two-time Grammy nominee is in a relationship with music star Rihanna, with whom he has two young sons.
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.”
At the first day of the hearing, which resumed on 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.
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 the 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 imaages led them to establish it was Rocky.
Rocky was arrested at Los Angeles international airport in the case in April, and charged in August.