The man at the center of A$AP Rocky’s criminal case has hired former Johnny Depp attorney Camille Vasquez and is suing the rapper and his defense lawyer for defamation, according to court documents obtained by Rolling Stone.
A$AP Rocky, whose real name is Rakim Mayers, pleaded not guilty last August to two counts of using a semiautomatic firearm during an altercation where Mayers allegedly shot and injured his longtime friend and former A$AP Mob member Terell Ephron, aka A$AP Relli, in downtown Hollywood in November 2021.
In his defense of Mayers, attorney Joe Tacopina, who has represented former President Trump in his lawsuits with Stormy Daniels and E. Jean Carroll, has painted Ephron as an embittered and jealous former associate. In statements to various media outlets, including Rolling Stone last September, Tacopina claimed that Ephron was trying to extort Mayers and “trying to get money from Rocky.”
Those remarks are detailed in Ephron’s lawsuit against Mayers and Tacopina. Ephron retained Vasquez and her firm Brown Rudnick last month, Rolling Stone has learned. Vasquez and her team identify 10 instances where they claim that through Mayers, Tacopina made false statements to the press.
In a statement to Rolling Stone, Tacopina says he “welcomes this litigation.” “Especially before the resolution of the criminal case. It will expose the fraud committed by their client,” he says. “It’s unfortunate that these lawyers don’t know the facts of this case or the actions of their client but I will be happy to educate them.” Mayers did not immediately respond to a request for comment.
Vasquez’s hiring is a clear sign that Ephron is buckling in for a fight — Vasquez represented Johnny Depp against his ex-wife Amber Heard in his high-profile defamation trial last year. While both parties were found to have defamed the other, Depp walked away the victor in the court of public opinion. (One of Heard’s defamation claims against Depp were pinned to alleged defamatory statements his lawyer made to the press.)
Tacopina has repped numerous high-profile clients, including Meek Mill and Alex Rodriguez, and has secured both difficult wins and acrimonious fallouts. “He pisses off others with his antics,” one source told Rolling Stone in April regarding his representation of the former president. “But he’s a blunt object that Donald Trump wants, apparently.”
“When anonymous sources make comments criticizing others it reveals jealousy and cowardice. Anyone who takes a look at my track record of trial success and the results I have achieved for my clients couldn’t seriously criticize my work or my intelligence,” Tacopina rebutted in a statement to Rolling Stone at the time.
The defamation suit comes two months ahead of Mayers’ scheduled preliminary hearing on Nov. 8, following multiple delays in his criminal case. A spokesperson for the Los Angeles County District Attorney’s Office told Rolling Stone last month it’s the last expected delay in moving the case to a possible trial.
Despite Mayers’ numerous public appearances with his partner Rihanna — who is reported to have recently welcomed their second child together — Mayers has not personally addressed the charges. If convicted, Mayers faces up to nine years in prison. He is currently freed on a $550,000 bond.
Mayers was arrested in April 2022 as he arrived at LAX after vacationing with Rihanna in Barbados. Police were later spotted at his Los Angeles home in search of the firearm used in the alleged shooting.
While prosecutors have not gone into detail about events of Nov.m, 6, 2021, Mayers and Ephron have offered differing accounts. Last August, Ephron filed a civil suit against Mayers for assault, battery, negligence, and emotional distress, claiming he was “lured” to a remote back alley before Mayers shot him.
Ephron was there to discuss a disagreement between the two men, according to court documents, but during the heated argument, Mayers allegedly brandished a handgun “without provocation, warning, or any justification” and “intentionally fired multiple shots” at Ephron, who was struck by bullet fragments in his hand.
However, Mayers’ team has maintained the rapper’s innocence and claim Ephron created a “false scenario” to make a quick buck off Mayers, saying Ephron was the aggressor in the situation. “He tried to attack Rocky and some other guy got involved, and he punched some other guy in the face and knocked his teeth out, and of course now, according to him, he’s a victim,” Tacopina previously told Rolling Stone.