Rapper A$AP Rocky on Monday entered a not-guilty plea to charges alleging that he shot at a former friend and collaborator during a November 2021 confrontation in Hollywood. As previously reported by Face2Face Africa, the rapper, whose real name is Rakim Mayers, allegedly shot at his childhood friend Terell Ephron and injured him during the said incident.
The 35-year-old entering the not-guilty plea comes after a Los Angeles judge in a November 2023 hearing ruled that there is sufficient evidence to prosecute him. The Fashion Killa rapper, who shares two children with fellow entertainer Rihanna, has been charged with two felony counts of assault with a semiautomatic firearm.
“I want to get this done and over so he can start enjoying his family and move on,” said Tacopina. “We’re going to be quiet and we’re going to try this (case) in a courtroom and when we do, facts will come out that show that he’s truly innocent and he’s a victim in this case.”
A$AP Rocky in April 2022 was arrested at the Los Angeles airport in connection with the shooting. The rapper, who was named as a suspect in the shooting, was coming back from a trip in Barbados with his girlfriend Rihanna when officers detained him at the Los Angeles International Airport before arresting him for “assault with a deadly weapon.”
Ephron, also known as A$AP Relli, took the stand during the November 2023, hearing. He said he and the defendant were childhood friends and members of a musical and artistic collective at their high school in New York.
Ephron testified that on November 6, 2021, he encountered A$AP Rocky outside a parking garage in Los Angeles, adding that the defendant drew a gun on him and said, “I’ll kill you right now”, per CBS News.
Ephron also said the confrontation lasted a few seconds, though it felt like “forever.” He also said he decided to pursue his former friend after he noticed an individual in the 35-year-old’s entourage was allegedly concealing a pocket knife.
He further testified that he felt A$AP Rocky’s success had made him transform into a “big-headed” person, adding that the 35-year-old had “failed everybody” and no one dared to talk to him about that.
“I just wanted him to hear my side,” he told Superior Court Judge M.L. Villar. Ephron also claimed that during the confrontation, his former friend initially drew a gun on him before later opening fire. The shots A$AP Rocky allegedly fired grazed Ephron’s knuckles. Ephron reported the incident to the police after two days.
During the hearing, Tacopina also tried to raise uncertainties about the case when he was cross-examining a police detective. But Villar ultimately ruled that A$AP Rocky must stand trial as “the totality of the video and testimony” makes it clear there is ample evidence for prosecution. Villar indicated that the evidence standard for preliminary hearings isn’t higher than a trial, and she was just finding probable cause, CBS News reported.
Besides the criminal case, A$AP Rocky and Tacopina are also facing a civil defamation lawsuit that Ephron filed against them. The plaintiff in the September 2023 lawsuit is accusing the defendants of wrongly painting him to the media as a liar, a money grabber, and a blackmailer. He also filed a separate complaint against his former friend in August 2022. That lawsuit is also linked to the shooting.
“He’s a failed associate — ex-associate — of Rocky’s, and he’s jealous. He was trying to get money from Rocky. He wanted Rocky to support him. He made it clear,” Tacopina said about Ephron in a statement to Rolling Stone. “There were repeated attempts where he tried to ask for money in lieu of not causing problems for Rocky. That’s what he said. We have all this memorialized in text messages and otherwise, so it’s an extortion.”