A$AP Rocky, the Grammy-nominated rapper, pleaded not guilty Monday to assault charges stemming from a 2021 Hollywood shooting. Prosecutors allege that Rocky pointed a semi-automatic handgun at a former friend and fellow rapper A$AP Relli during an argument on November 6, 2021. Relli, whose real name is Terell Ephron, later claimed he suffered minor injuries from bullet fragments.
Rocky was arrested in April 2022 and released on $550,000 bond. He faces two counts of assault with a semiautomatic firearm and allegations that he personally used a firearm in the incident. His trial is set to begin this week in Los Angeles following Monday’s not guilty plea. If convicted on all charges, he could face up to nine years in prison.
According to investigators, an argument escalated between Rocky, Relli and two other men outside a residence on Selma Ave in Hollywood. Police reports state that Rocky drew a handgun and fired twice in Relli’s direction. One of the bullets reportedly grazed Relli’s hand.
Relli later identified Rocky as the shooter in a police interview. However, Rocky’s attorney maintains his client’s innocence, stating there is no legitimate evidence tying him to the shooting.
The November 2021 incident and ensuing charges have shaken the hip-hop community. Many of Rocky’s musical peers have voiced support in recent days. His superstar girlfriend Rihanna has also remained by his side throughout the ordeal.
However, A$AP Relli made his stance clear by filing a civil lawsuit against Rocky seeking unspecified damages last August. Relli took to Instagram Monday, posting “The truth will be revealed” after Rocky entered his not guilty plea.
Several music industry insiders fear the recent turmoil could seriously damage Rocky’s reputation and career. But his legal team maintains that he will be fully exonerated in court.
“”Mr. Mayers is relieved that the opportunity to clear his name is finally here,” his attorney said outside court Monday.
Jury selection is slated to begin Wednesday in Los Angeles Superior Court. The trial before Judge H. Clay Jacke II is expected to last two to three weeks.
Prosecutors are anticipated to base much of their case on the original police investigation, including Relli’s eyewitness statements identifying Rocky as the shooter. However, Rocky’s defense team plans to argue that the alleged victim is unreliable and has ulterior motives stemming from past beefs.
If acquitted, Rocky will still have to contend with Relli’s ongoing civil lawsuit seeking monetary damages. But being cleared of criminal charges would allow him to shift focus back to his music and relationship with Rihanna. The couple reportedly wants to get married and start a family in the near future.
On the flip side, a conviction on all counts would almost certainly entail prison time for Rocky. That would deliver a major blow both personally and professionally right as his career appears primed to reach new heights. Needless to say, the stakes are extraordinarily high for the embattled rapper in this upcoming trial.
Table 1: Key Figures in A$AP Rocky Trial
|Pleaded not guilty to assault charges
|Claims Rocky shot him in 2021 incident
|Supporting Rocky throughout case
|H. Clay Jacke II
|Presiding over trial in Los Angeles
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