Tory Lanez has been hit with a third felony charge as he awaits opening statements in his trial over claims he shot Megan Thee Stallion in her feet more than two years ago.
Prosecutors added the new charge of discharging a firearm with gross negligence amid ongoing jury selection in the case, Rolling Stone has learned.
Lanez, whose legal name is Daystar Peterson, previously pleaded not guilty to one felony count each of assault with a semiautomatic firearm and carrying a loaded, unregistered firearm in a vehicle. He also faces a gun allegation that he personally inflicted great bodily injury.
The new charge carries a possible six-year prison sentence and still qualifies as a deportable crime if jurors opt to convict him of the negligent discharge as opposed to the more serious assault count. (The Alone at Prom performer is a Canadian citizen.)
Peterson, 30, is accused of pointing a semiautomatic 9mm handgun at Megan’s feet, yelling, “Dance, bitch!” and opening fire in the predawn hours of July 12, 2020.
Peterson and Megan had been traveling in a Cadillac Escalade with Megan’s best friend, Kelsey Harris, and Peterson’s bodyguard when an argument caused Megan to exit the vehicle on a dark residential street in the Hollywood Hills, according to testimony at Peterson’s preliminary hearing last year.
An LAPD detective testified that he was assigned to the case two days after the shooting and interviewed Megan, born Megan Pete, over the phone on July 16, 2020, and then again on Nov. 12, 2020. He said the “Savage” singer clearly identified Peterson as her assailant.
“As she exited the vehicle, she heard Mr. Peterson yelling obscenities at her, and he stated, ‘Dance, bitch!’ And he then began firing a weapon at her,” Det. Ryan Stogner testified.
“(Megan) observed Mr. Peterson holding a firearm, and then she observed him start to shoot,” Stogner said. “Megan immediately felt pain to her feet, observed blood, fell to the ground, and then crawled to an adjacent driveway of a residence…She described her injuries as bleeding profusely.”
He said Megan initially lied and told police, saying that she had stepped on glass because she was in fear of how the officers might respond.
“She said that at the time, she was extremely scared and embarrassed, and due to the fact that she was friends with the defendant, she was scared that he was going to get in trouble, and she also expressed some concerns regarding the political climate regarding police and shootings,” Stogner testified. “She was afraid that there had been recent police shootings, and she described her concern about the police possibly shooting the defendant since he had just committed a shooting.”
Stogner said medical records from Cedars-Sinai Hospital confirmed doctors found bullet fragments in both of Megan’s feet.
For her part, Harris hasn’t spoken publicly about the shooting, but her friendship with Megan has become estranged. She appeared under a subpoena from prosecutors at a prior hearing and is due to testify in the case.
During a motion hearing on Monday, Tory’s new defense lawyer George Mgdesyan argued that prosecutors should be barred from mentioning in their opening statement that Peterson allegedly apologized to Harris during a jail call after the shooting. He said unless Harris testifies and lays an adequate foundation for the call, it should remain off-limits.
Los Angeles County Judge David Herriford said that as long as prosecutors have a good-faith belief Harris will testify, he would allow them to state what they believe the evidence will show. He also said another witness might be able to lay the necessary foundation. Either way, prosecutors confirmed they expect Harris will testify.
The rough contents of the jail call were revealed at Peterson’s probable cause hearing last December. “The defendant continued to apologize for the incident that occurred. He told Kelsey basically that he was drunk, and he was sorry for what he had done,” Stogner testified, adding that he personally reviewed the jail call purportedly placed shortly after the shooting.
Under cross-examination last year, Stogner said Megan and Harris had been close friends for about seven years but apparently “stopped their friendship” shortly after the incident.
As she grilled Stogner under cross-examination, Peterson’s lawyer at the time, Shawn Holley, claimed the “argument in the car escalated” because Peterson claimed he and Megan had been in some type of intimate relationship, and Harris became upset because she “had a romantic interest in Tory.”
Holley then suggested maybe Harris fired the weapon, zeroing in on a portion of a statement from a third-party eyewitness who reported seeing some of the incidents from his nearby balcony. The witness purportedly said it appeared to him that the muzzle flash was closest to the non-victim female at the time of the shooting.
On Monday, prosecutors asked Judge Herriford to rule that if Peterson declines to testify, his lawyers should be barred from pursuing a “third-party culpability defense” in which they might name a different possible shooter. Deputy District Attorney Alexander Bott said the statement from the eyewitness on the balcony was all over the place and that the witness has firmly stated he “doesn’t know who the shooter is.”
According to Bott, the man’s first statement claimed that “nine people got out of the car: five men and four women.” (There were only four people in the car.) The man also allegedly claimed at one point that he was woken up by the gunshots and didn’t see the shooting, Bott told the court. “Every time he gave a statement, the details shifted,” Bott said. “He’s grossly unreliable.”
Judge Herriford said Monday that prosecutors would have to file a written motion on the matter before he would make a ruling.
Opening statements in the trial are set to begin on Dec. 12.