On Monday, a judge in Los Angeles determined that there is sufficient evidence to proceed with a trial against A$AP Rocky. The charges against him allege that he shot a firearm at a former friend and collaborator in the vicinity of a Hollywood hotel in 2021.
During the preliminary hearing, two witnesses testified for approximately a day and a half before Superior Court Judge M.L. Villar made the ruling. Rocky, who showed no visible reaction, has maintained his plea of not guilty to two felony counts of assault with a semiautomatic firearm.
Rihanna’s beau is none other than the 35-year-old rapper, fashion icon, and two-time Grammy nominee. Together, they share two young sons and are happily committed in their relationship.
The prosecutors stated that if found guilty on all charges, he could face a maximum sentence of 24 years in prison.
According to Villar, the defendant should go to trial based on the entirety of the video and testimony presented. She emphasized that although preliminary hearings require less evidence than a trial, the evidence presented is sufficient to move forward with the case.
Joe Tacopina, Rocky’s attorney, expressed outside the court that they were not disappointed or surprised by the decision to go to trial. He further added that they had been preparing for the trial all along. According to him, Rocky will be proven innocent without any doubt when the trial is over.
On Monday, during the first day of the resumed hearing, Terell Ephron gave testimony stating that he and Rocky had been part of the same group of artists and musicians in their New York high school, having been friends since childhood.
According to Ephron, their once-amicable relationship had taken a turn for the worse, leading to a tense standoff in Hollywood on November 6, 2021. He recounted how Rocky had brandished a gun at him during the initial confrontation, and later fired shots that narrowly missed his knuckles during a subsequent altercation.
Deputy District Attorney Paul Przelomiec stated to the judge before her ruling that Mr. Ephron’s testimony alone is enough and that the surveillance video that recorded portions of the incident supports his statements precisely.
According to Tacopina, the testimony of the complainant has some significant issues, and he believes that there is insufficient evidence to support the allegations.
During questioning earlier on Monday, Tacopina revealed that the police detective confirmed that seven officers who conducted a search of the sidewalk and street just 20 minutes after the alleged shooting found no evidence of the incident. Additionally, the pair of 9mm shell casings that the police currently possess were actually recovered by Ephron, who returned to the scene of the standoff approximately an hour later.
During the trial, Tacopina presented the body camera footage showing the officers searching the ground for approximately 10 minutes. Ephron, who reported the incident to the police two days later, submitted the shell casings to the detective. However, the detective mentioned that the casings did not have any recoverable fingerprints.
During the trial, prosecutors presented a video that captured the sounds of two gunshots near the scene of the incident. Initially, no individuals were visible in the footage, but shortly after, a man can be seen running around a corner before slowing down to a walk. Although the man’s identity is not immediately clear in the video, LAPD Detective Frank Flores confirmed during his testimony that they have since determined it to be Rocky.
During the trial, Flores gave testimony that stated the absence of a 9 mm pistol during the execution of a search warrant on Rocky.
During the trial, prosecutors presented a still image from the surveillance footage, which depicted an individual wearing a hooded sweatshirt and holding what appeared to be a firearm. Although the person’s face was not visible, another image from the same footage showed the face of the individual in the sweatshirt, without any gun in sight. Flores, a witness, testified that these images helped them identify Rocky as the suspect.
While representing Donald Trump in his New York criminal case, Tacopina questioned the detective about the weapon used in the incident. Tacopina highlighted that the police had no way of determining whether the gun was loaded or even real.
Tacopina inquired whether the weapon in question had been tested, to which Flores replied in the negative, stating that it had never been found.
“Are you uncertain whether the gun is operable or not?” Tacopina inquired.
“I can’t determine if it’s operable without it,” responded the detective.
Questioning the veracity of Ephron’s claims, Tacopina pointed out the delay in seeking medical treatment for the minor injury to his hand, which only occurred after his return to New York.
With a hint of sarcasm, he presented a picture of the scraped fingers to the detective and commented, “It’s quite miraculous that he survived that shooting.”
The judge reprimanded Tacopina, reminding him multiple times to modify his tone.
In April, authorities arrested Rocky at Los Angeles International Airport in connection with a case, and then charged him in August. On Monday morning, he appeared in court wearing a dark suit, sunglasses, and a face mask. Over the weekend, he had attended the Formula One Las Vegas Grand Prix auto race, where he played a significant role as Puma’s creative director in the clothing brand’s partnership with F1.
In the recent years, he hasn’t released much music and has gained more recognition as the romantic partner, fashion influencer, and co-parent of Rihanna. He welcomed his second son with Rihanna in May, further solidifying their bond. Both his studio albums released in 2013 and 2015 achieved the top spot on the Billboard 200.
When questioned about whether Rocky would invite Rihanna to his trial, which she did not attend during the preliminary hearings, Tacopina replied, “He would never put his family in harm’s way. He wants to protect them and is handling the situation in Rocky’s typical fashion of shielding his loved ones.”
In 2019, rapper Rocky found himself in the midst of a brawl in Sweden, which led to his imprisonment. Interestingly, then-President Donald Trump took up Rocky’s cause and tried to secure his release and return to the U.S. Although the rapper was ultimately found guilty of assault at trial, he received a “conditional sentence” that did not involve any additional jail time.