Judge orders A$AP Rocky to stand trial in alleged shooting

A$AP Rocky
A$AP Rocky departs court after a preliminary hearing at Clara Shortridge Foltz Criminal Justice Center on November 20, 2023 in Los Angeles, California. Photo credit Allison Dinner-Pool/Getty Image

A$AP Rocky Monday was ordered to stand trial on allegations that the rapper pulled a gun on a hip hop artist during an altercation in Hollywood and then fired at him soon afterward during another confrontation, despite protests from a defense attorney that there was insufficient evidence a shooting even occurred.

The testimony came during the final day of a hearing before Los Angeles Superior Court Judge M.L. Villar, who found that there was sufficient evidence that the 35-year-old entertainer -- whose real name is Rakim Mayers -- should stand trial on two counts of assault with a semiautomatic firearm. The charges include allegations that Mayers personally used a firearm during the pair of confrontations the evening of Nov. 6, 2021, with Terell Ephron.

Mayers' attorney, Joe Tacopina, maintained that video evidence of two scraped knuckles on Ephron's left hand and a lack of credible testimony by the alleged victim on Nov. 8, plus the inconclusivity of the various surveillance videos offered and insufficient proof that Mayers had a real gun, all supported dismissing the charges and cast doubt on whether a shooting occurred.

But the judge said the evidence threshold is much lower in a preliminary hearing compared to a trial and that she was satisfied by what she saw in the videos, one of which included  audio sounds of gunshots. Villar said another video showed Ephron "dance around" other individuals present to protect himself, but she questioned why he followed Mayers after the initial confrontation with the rapper.

The judge said Ephron's filing of a civil suit against Mayers was not important.

The only comment Mayers made during Monday's session was to answer "Yes, your honor," when he agreed to waive his arraignment from two weeks until Jan. 8 to accommodate Tacopina's calendar.

In Monday's testimony, Tacopina repeatedly questioned LAPD Det. Frank Flores, one of the case investigators, and also clashed with Deputy District Attorney Paul Przelomiec. The salty interactions prompted the judge to tell Tacopina, "Tone yourself down, way down."

Tacopina pursued inquiries to Flores on Ephron's decision to wait two days to report the crime. He also asked Flores why the police waited about six months to arrest Mayers, with the detective responding that they wanted to do as complete an investigation as possible, including going through all the video evidence over and over again.

Ephron also is known as A$AP Relli. In his testimony earlier this month, he said he first encountered Mayers outside a parking garage in an encounter partially caught on surveillance video and that Mayers pulled a gun from his waistband, put it toward his stomach and said, "I'll kill you right now."

He said the altercation seemed like it was "forever," but was likely just seconds. He told the judge that he decided to follow Mayers after seeing another man in the rapper's entourage apparently putting a pocket knife away.

Ephron -- who testified that he thought the rapper had become "big- headed" as a result of his success -- said he told Mayers that he had "failed everybody" and that nobody was brave enough to tell him what they thought.

"I just wanted him to hear my side," he said, telling the judge that he was never going to see him again.

Ephron said the man he knew as "Rocky" turned around and shot at him, saying that he believed that his left hand had been grazed by the gunfire. He said he waited until he got to New York to go to a hospital to seek medical treatment for his three injured knuckles, saying that he was in pain.

Mayers -- who is free on bond -- was arrested in April 2022 at Los Angeles International Airport after arriving on a private plane from Barbados, where he had been on vacation with his then-pregnant girlfriend, singer Rihanna, according to NBC News and TMZ. The couple now has two children.

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Featured Image Photo Credit: Allison Dinner-Pool/Getty Image