December 2, 2023

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Day 1 Recap – Billboard

Opening statements kicked off the highly anticipated trial over whether Tory Lanez shot Megan Thee Stallion in the foot two years ago.

Los Angeles prosecutors hope to convict Lanez (real name Daystar Peterson) of three felony charges over the July 12, 2020 incident, in which he allegedly shot Stallion in the foot during an argument after a pool party in the Hollywood Hills.

In October 2020, he was charged with one count of assault with a firearm and another gun possession charge. On Dec. 6, 2022, just one week before the trial began, the L.A. district attorney’s office added a new, third count of discharging a firearm with gross negligence. If convicted on all three charges, Lanez faces 22 years in prison. Yet Lanez, 30, has maintained his innocence and looked poised to fight for it while arriving at the Clara Shortridge Foltz Criminal Justice Center Monday morning (Dec. 12) in a cool mint suit and white turtleneck while holding his son’s hand as he entered the packed courtroom with the rest of his entourage.

Prosecutors argued that the shooting took place shortly after Stallion, Lanez and her former friend Kelsey Harris all attended a pool party at Kylie Jenner‘s house on the night of July 11, 2020. As they left in a black Cadillac Escalade driven by Lanez’s security guard Jauquan Smith, L.A. County District Defense Attorney Alexander Bott said an argument between Stallion and Lanez, whom he claimed had “been intimate” with one another, erupted after “Meg had insulted his skills as a musical artist.” She then exited the vehicle before Lanez allegedly grabbed and pointed a gun, yelled “Dance, bi—!” and fired five rounds, which Bott played the audio of twice during his statement. Prosecutors claim that “she was bleeding, she was injured” after Lanez struck both of Stallion’s feet.

And while arguing that Harris, who is expected to testify during the trial, “will tell you her close friend was shot by the defendant,” Bott also claimed the defendant “pulled her by the hair and “either punched her or slapped her.” He showed a screenshot of three consecutive text messages Harris sent to Stallion’s bodyguard, Justin Edison, at 4:27 a.m., just minutes after the shooting: “Help. Tory shot meg. 911.” After responding to 911 calls from neighbors, police officers — some of whom were called by prosecutors to take the stand today as witnesses — conducted a high-risk traffic stop on Hollywood Blvd., where they found a gun on the floorboard of the front passenger seat, where Lanez had been sitting.

Bott says while Stallion was transported to Cedars-Sinai Medical Center, where a doctor extracted three major bullet fragments from her foot while performing surgery, Harris, Lanez and Smith went to the Hollywood police station and underwent testing for gunshot residue, which Lanez, Harris and two other people at the scene tested positive for. Other evidence the prosecutors brought in included a recording of a phone call Lanez made from jail to Harris at 9:05 a.m., approximately five hours after the shooting, where he profusely apologized and admitted he was “so drunk,” and a screenshot of his text to Stallion at 8:59 p.m., when he wrote, “Meg. I know you prolly never gone to talk to me again. But I genuinely want u to know I’m sorry from the bottom of my heart. And I was just too drunk .”

Bott ultimately argued that Harris’ texts to Edison claiming the defendant shot Stallion, the gun being “warm to the touch” (meaning it was consistent with a recent firing, Officer Sandra Cabral claimed in her testimony later on), the doctor who performed surgery on Stallion’s foot and found bullet fragments, the call Lanez made to Harris in jail hours after the shooting, and his apology text to Stallion should all point to the defendant being guilty.

But Lanez’s lead attorney George Mgdesyan argued, “This case is about jealousy” before painting a different scene at Jenner’s pool party and diving into Lanez, Stallion and Harris’ tumultuous relationship. He suggested Stallion was triggered by seeing Lanez and Jenner hanging in the pool together, causing her to want to leave the party with Lanez. They eventually left with Harris and Smith, the latter of whom drove them in the black SUV, but Mgdesyan stated Stallion had left some of her belongings at Jenner’s house and made the foursome return. “She was so drunk, she was so jealous,” he claimed, that the billionaire makeup mogul told the “Savage” rapper to leave the party because she was causing a scene.

The defense claimed that Stallion then started an argument with Lanez during their car ride back for initially not wanting to leave with her and instead wanting to stay with Jenner. When Harris sided with her, the Alone at Prom singer questioned her allegiance and exposed that Stallion had a sexual relationship with him behind Harris’ back, since Harris and Lanez had been linked together first. Lanez seems to have corroborated his claim in a tweet from February 2022 when he wrote that the apology text he had sent Stallion mere hours after the shooting was due to “good d*ick had me f—ing 2 best friends …. and I got caught.”

According to the defense, Stallion had also been romantically involved with fellow rapper DaBaby and NBA player Ben Simmons right after Harris had dated both men. Mgdesyan zeroed in on the physical altercation that allegedly ensued between Harris and Stallion in the car and mentioned that a witness named Sean Kelly, whom he said police interviewed minutes after the shooting because their SUV was parked by his house, saw Harris get out from the back seat of the car, open Stallion’s front passenger door and “saw a fist fight between the girls” before one of them held a gun. The defense ultimately posed the theory that Harris may have been the one who discharged the gun and shot Stallion.

Mgdesyan also argued “[Stallion’s] lying about her story,” pointing to the numerous interviews she’s given with news outlets and police as well as Instagram Lives she’s held in the last two years. He questioned why the rapper initially told police officers she cut her foot stepping on broken glass before claiming she had suffered a gunshot wound days later. After media outlets reported that Lanez had fired the gun, Stallion directly accused him in an August 2020 Instagram video. The defense also suggested Stallion was not completely truthful during her CBS Mornings interview with Gayle King from April 2022, when she denied having an intimate relationship with his client. Mgdesyan also acknowledged the apology messages Lanez sent to both women, which prosecutors showed earlier, and argued that his client never mentioned a gun or shooting in his call to Harris or text to Stallion but apologized for “cheating on them, having a sexual relationship with both of them” and not disclosing that either of them.

Stallion, 27, is expected to testify in court Tuesday (Dec. 13). It still remains unclear if Lanez will testify. The Gathering for Justice, a non-profit founded in 2005 by Harry Belafonte, has partnered with multiple women’s and violence prevention organizations to organize a rally outside of the county criminal courthouse in support of the three-time Grammy-winning rapper before she takes the stand on Tuesday.  “We are committed to spreading the message that violence is not the answer. We know the time is now to advocate for victims of violence, particularly violence against Black women,” said president/CEO Carmen Perez-Jordan in a press statement. Her sentiments align with Stallion’s “protect Black women” message that she’s been spreading in countless interviews and performances, including her October 2020 Saturday Night Live performance and New York Times op-ed, in which she she wrote “There’s not much room for passionate advocacy if you are a Black woman.”

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