Los Angeles, Nov 21 (IANS) Rapper A$AP Rocky, who has been accused of firing a semi-automatic handgun at his former friend and plaintiff A$AP Relli after a heated discussion, will face trial in January.
In a Monday preliminary hearing in Los Angeles, Judge M.L. Villar ruled that there was sufficient evidence for the rapper, whose real name is Rakim Mayers — who pleaded not guilty to two counts of assault with a firearm in August 2022 — to stand trial for allegations surrounding the November 6, 2021 incident, reports People magazine.
“I am certain Rocky will be vindicated of all of this,” the rapper’s lawyer Joe Tacopina said outside the courthouse.
During the hearing, Detective Frank Flores took the stand and new surveillance video was unveiled, in addition to what was shown at the previous hearing earlier this month.
As per People, in the new footage, two loud pops, which the prosecution team said is the alleged shooting, were heard but not seen. Flores confirmed he reviewed the footage in his investigation and Rocky, 35, had a gun in his hand during the altercation.
Under cross examination, however, he revealed the gun was never recovered. Meanwhile, the two shell casings that were recovered from the scene by Relli (real name Terell Ephron) and turned into police two days later had no fingerprints.
The ‘Praise the Lord’ rapper’s trial is set to begin on January 8.
At the previous hearing, a photo of Relli’s minor injuries displayed in the courtroom showed small patches of raw, bloody skin on the knuckles of his index, middle and ring fingers on his left hand.
According to legal documents obtained by People, Relli filed a civil suit for assault, battery and emotional distress against Rocky on August 10, 2022. Rocky (who has two children — sons RZA, 18 months, and Riot, three months — with his partner, pop superstar Rihanna, 35) has denied all claims.
In his answer to the civil complaint, his attorneys wrote: “Defendant generally denies each and every allegation of the complaint, and specifically denies that Plaintiff has been damaged in any amount or in any way as a result of any act or omission of answering defendant. The injuries and/or damages complained of in the complaint, if any, were caused solely, directly and proximately by the negligent and/or intentional acts or omissions of person other than answering defendant.”
Relli — a former fellow member of the hip-hop collective A$AP Mob — claimed he was struck by bullet fragments after the argument, and said in court that he sought necessary medical attention at a hospital in New York City.
The two men were childhood friends and went to high school together in New York.
“We were really cool. We were chill all the time,” Relli recalled on the stand, before stating that tension started to build when Rocky found solo success and became “big-headed”.
After their friend and Mob member A$AP Josh died in October 2021, Relli testified that his mother asked for financial help to bring his body back to New York and that Rocky promised to financially help via group text.