Grainy video allegedly showing rapper A$AP Rocky firing a gun at his former friend A$AP Relli on a Hollywood street corner two years ago was made public for the first time Wednesday inside a Los Angeles courtroom.
Rocky, born Rakim Mayers, sat at a defense table and watched the clip — along with a packed courtroom — on the first day of his probable cause hearing that will determine whether prosecutors have enough evidence to take him to trial on two counts of assault with a semiautomatic firearm.
Mayers has pleaded not guilty, contending through his lead defense lawyer Joe Tacopina that he did not shoot Relli and believes he’s the victim of a shakedown.
The video could prove pivotal. It did not appear to show much more than a group of men involved in some type of scuffle on the corner of Selma Ave. and Vista Del Mar Ave. in Hollywood, Calif., on Nov. 6, 2021. It ends with one member of the group sprinting away and the rest scattering.
“It’s a little blurry, but you can make out everybody,” Relli, born Terell Ephron, testified.
In nearly a full day of testimony that turned so combative in the afternoon, the judge ordered a break to cool down, Ephron claimed he was the victim of an armed ambush.
Ephron testified he and Mayers had become estranged and that he believed the Grammy-nominated rapper had become “big-headed.”
He said Mayers showed up to their meeting on Nov. 6, 2021 flanked by Illijah Ulanger, also known as A$AP Illz, and Jamel Phillips, also known as A$AP Twelvyy.
He testified Mayers pulled out a gun during an initial interaction around the corner from the alleged shooting and said, “I’ll kill you right now.” Ephron said he dared Mayers to shoot him.
“Shoot that shit. Why you brought a gun if you’re not going to use it? You don’t scare me,” he allegedly told Mayers.
Ephron testified that people were walking by on the nearby street outside the W Hotel in Hollywood, so Mayers allegedly put the gun in his waistband and started to walk away. Ephron told the court Phillips appeared to be concealing a knife.
“I was talking a bunch of shit,” he said. “I was letting (Mayers) know how much he failed everybody, because nobody else was brave enough to say how they feel about this man.” Ephron said he told Mayers one of their friends was suffering from a crack addiction while another was living in the projects.
“I wasn’t doing anything physically. I was just so mad. It didn’t sit well with me, and I wanted him to hear my side. I knew I was never going to see this man again,” Ephron testified.
He said Mayers eventually fired an initial shot that “grazed” his left hand. He claimed he rushed to grab Ulanger to use him “as a shield.”
Ephron testified that everyone fled the scene, but he returned later that night and found two 9mm shell casings that he photographed and gave to police.
Under cross-examination, Ephron said he didn’t call 911 because he wanted to speak with a lawyer first. He admitted he didn’t seek medical attention for his hand until he returned to New York. A photo of his alleged wounds displayed in the courtroom showed small patches of raw, red skin on the knuckles of three fingers.
In the hours after the alleged shooting, Ephron sent Mayers a series of text messages that read, “U should’ve killed me,” “I dead loved ur dumb ass,” and “Y’all n—-s set me up u try to take me from my daughter.”
Mayers responded with texts that immediately questioned what Ephron was saying and suggested he take his allegations to police.
“Rel wtf why u telling people I shot at you,” Mayers wrote in one response.
“Stop making shit up rell,” he wrote.
“Now u tryna extort n—-s talking bout i shot u n shot u 4 times…all types of nonsense,” Mayers texted. “Call the police… you weirdo.”
Mayers, 35, has pleaded not guilty to two counts of assault with a semiautomatic firearm filed by the Los Angeles County District Attorney last year. He remains free on a $550,000 bond and could face up to nine years in prison if convicted as charged.
The judge ordered him back on Nov. 20 to finish the hearing that started Wednesday. As he left the courthouse, Mayers posed for selfies with fans and signed a man’s shoe. “I feel like how I look — good,” he told Rolling Stone.
The “Praise The Lord” artist — who shares two children with Rihanna — also is fighting a lawsuit brought by Ephron alleging assault, battery, negligence and intentional infliction of emotional distress. First reported by Rolling Stone, the blockbuster civil complaint filed in August 2022 unmasked Ephron as the alleged victim in the shooting investigation that led to Mayers’ arrest in April 2022.
Ephron, a former A$AP Mob member, alleged in the complaint that Mayers “lured” him to an obscure location in Hollywood to discuss a disagreement and then fired multiple shots without warning, allegedly striking him with “bullet projectile/fragments” in his left hand.
Speaking to Rolling Stone prior to Wednesday’s hearing, Tacopina said his client didn’t shoot anyone and was the victim of a failed shakedown at the meeting on Nov. 6, 2021.
“Rocky didn’t shoot him by any stretch,” Tacopina said, calling the assault allegation a “false scenario” at the heart of “a plain and blatant classic attempt at extortion.” The lawyer said Ephron had been badgering Mayers for money and initiated a physical altercation at the face-to-face meeting.
“He’s a failed associate — ex-associate — of Rocky’s, and he’s jealous,” Tacopina said of Ephron. “He was trying to get money from Rocky. He wanted Rocky to support him. He made it clear. 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.”
Ephron’s former civil lawyers Jamal Tooson and Brian Hurwitz previously told Rolling Stone that the “merits” of the case against Mayers were “thoroughly investigated by both law enforcement and the Los Angeles District Attorney prior to the decision to not only arrest A$AP Rocky but charge him.”
Ephron’s new lawyer on the civil case is Camille Vasquez, the attorney who shot to fame representing Johnny Depp in his defamation trial against ex-wife Amber Heard. Vasquez and Ephron filed a second civil complaint against Mayers in September, alleging he and Tacopina defamed Ephron with the extortion allegation.