Rapper A$AP Rocky will go to trial after he was accused of shooting a former friend. A judge ruled Monday that enough evidence exists to support his two assaults with a firearm charges.
A$AP Rocky headed for trial after being accused of shooting ex-friend A$AP Relli
No plans for Rihanna to attend trials as A$AP Rocky faces charges in court.
Los Angeles County Superior Court Judge M.L. Villar in Los Angeles said California state law requires only a "scintilla" of evidence to support the charges, and prosecutors have provided "more than sufficient evidence," including a video showing a gun.
The judge said she agrees with Rocky's lawyer that another video doesn't show the shooting, but in another, "You do hear two shots."
Rocky, who is Rihanna's boyfriend and the father of her two children, is accused of firing shots at Terell "A$AP Relli" Ephron on November 6, 2021, in Hollywood.
Ephron testified on November 8 that the first bullet grazed the knuckles on his left hand. The evidence against Rocky includes a photo of Relli's scraped knuckles. He sought medical attention at a hospital in New York after flying back there from Los Angeles.
His lawyer, prominent New York lawyer Joe Tacopina, told reporters outside the courthouse that he isn't surprised Villar found probable cause given the low standard. He said he welcomes a trial.
"I am certain Rocky is going to be vindicated when all is said and done," said Tacopina, who also represents former President Donald Trump in his tax fraud case related to the hush money paid to adult film star Stormy Daniels.
Tacopina also was Trump's lawyer in the civil trial with a woman who accused him of raping her, columnist E. Jean Carroll, that ended with a Manhattan federal jury ordering Trump to pay Carroll $5 million for defaming and sexually abusing her.
He says the shooting never happened, and that Relli is falsely accusing Rocky to try to extort money from him.
"There's some evidence that's going to be insurmountable. The witness is not going to be able to withstand cross-examination in front of the jury," Tacopina told reporters.
Relli testified on November 8 that he was angry with Rocky because he believed Rocky had backed out of a plan to pay for a friend's body to be flown back to New York.
Relli sent Rocky a text that began, "You so f*cking fake it's sad," then overheard Rocky disparaging him in a phone call to a mutual friend. Rocky later texted him asking him, "Wya?" — short for "Where you at" — "Lets get to it" and "Stop duckin my calls."
They met near a hotel in Hollywood, and Rocky was "coming hot," Relli testified. He said Rocky pointed the gun in his stomach and said "I'll kill you right now." He then fired three to four shots, the first of which grazed Relli's knuckles, he said.
"He was on my ass. He was trying to, like, shoot me," Relli said. Relli said he ran from the scene, then contacted the police on November 8 after contacting a lawyer.
Los Angeles police Detective Frank Flores was the only other witness besides Relli. He testified Monday about collecting the surveillance video and extracting still images from it, including one he said shows Rocky holding a gun.
Legal name Rakim Mayers, 35-year-old Rocky was charged in November 2022 with two counts of first-degree assault with a firearm.
Rocky was arrested in April 2022 at the Los Angeles airport as he returned from Barbados with Rihanna, and police raided the couple's home in Los Angeles. He posted $550,000 bond and has been out of custody ever since.
Asked what he would tell Rihanna if she wanted to go to court to support Rocky, Tacopina said Rocky "would never subject his family. He wants to shield them."
"He's handling it like Rocky would handle something. He protects his family," Tacopina said.
Relli also is suing Rocky and Tacopina for defamation, and he's represented by Benjamin Chew and Camille Vasquez, the same lawyers who represented Johnny Depp in his defamation lawsuit against Amber Heard.
Relli has another lawsuit against Rocky for assault, battery, negligence and intentional infliction of emotional distress.
Judge Villar shut down Tacopina's questions about the lawsuits and Relli's hiring of a civil lawyer, saying she doesn't believe the issue is relevant to whether probable cause exists.
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