Wave Wire Services
LOS ANGELES — A$AP Rocky pleaded not guilty Jan. 8 to charges stemming from an allegation that the rapper pulled a gun on a hip hop artist during an altercation in Hollywood and then fired at him soon afterward during another confrontation just over two years ago.
The 35-year-old entertainer — whose real name is Rakim Mayers — is charged with two counts of assault with a semiautomatic firearm, along with allegations that he personally used a firearm during the pair of confrontations with Terell Ephron the evening of Nov. 6, 2021.
Mayers’ attorney, Joe Tacopina, told reporters outside the downtown Los Angeles courthouse after the hearing that the defense hopes the case will go to trial by September, and said his client will be “vindicated.”
“I want to get this done and over so he can start enjoying his family and move on,” Tacopina said. “We’re going to be quiet and we’re going to try this [case] in a courtroom and when we do, facts will come out that show that he’s truly innocent and he’s a victim in this case.”
Mayers — who is free on bond — was arrested in April 2022 at Los Angeles International Airport after arriving on a private plane from Barbados, where he had been on vacation with his then-pregnant girlfriend, singer Rihanna, according to NBC News and TMZ. The couple now has two children.
Last November, Los Angeles County Superior Court Judge M.L. Villar ruled there was sufficient evidence to allow the case against Mayers to proceed to trial.
Ephron — also is known as A$AP Relli — testified at the hearing in November that he saw 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 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 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 he was never going to see him again.
Ephron said the man he knew as “Rocky” turned around and shot at him, saying he believed 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 he was in pain.
Tacopina had told the judge at the hearing in November that there was insufficient evidence a shooting had even occurred, urging the judge to dismiss the charges.
But the judge said then that 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.
Ephron filed a civil defamation lawsuit last September against the rapper and Tacopina, alleging that they have falsely portrayed him in the media as a liar, a money grabber and a blackmailer. He also filed suit against Mayers in August 2022 stemming from the alleged shooting.