A$AP Rocky sat quietly at a defense table Monday as prosecutors unveiled more surveillance video from the night the “Praise The Lord” rapper allegedly fired shots at his ex-friend A$AP Relli in Los Angeles.
The new video builds on the footage played in court two weeks ago during the first half of Rocky’s preliminary hearing. While the grainy footage of the alleged shooting revealed two weeks ago was soundless and hard to make out, one of the new clips from a building around the corner captured two loud pops with a time stamp matching the alleged shooting. The new video with the sound showed a view of neighboring buildings. Seconds after the alleged shooting, a man identified by prosecutors as A$AP Rocky is seen rounding the corner from the scene of the altercation and slowing down to a walk.
LAPD Det. Frank Flores took the witness stand Monday and authenticated the videos showing the alleged “struggle” at the corner of Selma Ave. and Vista Del Mar Ave. on November 6, 2021. He testified that security surveillance footage collected from yet another camera at a parking garage on Argyle Ave. appeared to show a gun in Rocky’s hands.
Under cross examination by the rapper’s bulldog lawyer Joe Tacopina, Det. Flores conceded the alleged weapon was never recovered. The detective also conceded the grainy video recorded at the intersection of the alleged shooting wasn’t definitive. “(There’s) nothing clear that shows it,” Flores testified, referring to the purported shooting. The detective tried to add that all the videos taken “collectively” tell a plausible story, but Tacopina shut him down. “I’m not asking for opinion,” Tacopina interrupted, asking again if the blurry video of the alleged gunfire clearly showed a shooting. “Nothing definitively shows,” the detective answered. The investigator said no fingerprints were found on the two shell casings allegedly found at the scene by Relli and handed over to police on November 8, 2021.
Rocky, born Rakim Mayers, is battling claims he met up with Relli, born Terell Ephron, outside the W Hotel in Hollywood, engaged in a verbal confrontation and opened fire. Mayers 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 $550,000 bond and could face up to nine years in prison if convicted as charged.
At the first half of the preliminary hearing on November 8, Tacopina – known for representing high-profile clients including Meek Mill, YG and Donald Trump – first introduced the grainy video of the alleged shooting on cross-examination.
The video, showing a group of four men involved in a scuffle, could prove pivotal if the case goes to trial. The men are tiny figures appearing mostly in a small corner of the screen. Captured by a camera across the street from the incident and across a parking lot, the video ended with one member of the group sprinting away and the rest scattering. “It’s a little blurry, but you can make out everybody,” Ephron testified Nov. 8.
In his full day of testimony, Ephron claimed he was the victim of an armed ambush orchestrated by the Grammy-nominated rapper. Ephron said he sent Mayers an embittered text on October 28, 2021, because he believed Mayers had become “big-headed” and failed to deliver on a promise to pay funeral expenses for one of their friends.
“You so fucking fake it’s sad,” the text shown on a screen in court two weeks ago read. Mayers never responded, he testified. (Under cross-examination, Ephron said he eventually learned Mayers paid for the entire funeral.)
“Don’t ever forget who introduced you to this life,” Ephron wrote in another text. He told the court he was the one who brought Mayers into the A$AP fold when they were high school students in New York and wasn’t intimidated by his success.
After his texts went unanswered, Ephron said he was riding in a car with A$AP Bari, whose real name is Jabari Shelton, when he purportedly overheard Mayers talking about him on a phone call. “He said he’d beat me up, that I’m emotional,” Ephron testified. According to Ephron, Mayers finally reached out to him directly the evening of November 6, 2021, with calls and texts asking where Ephron was staying during a trip to Los Angeles. They agreed to talk face to face, and Mayers allegedly showed up to their meeting flanked by Illijah Ulanger, also known as A$AP Illz, and Jamel Phillips, also known as A$AP Twelvyy.
Ephron testified that Mayers, 35, pulled out a firearm during their initial face-to-face confrontation at the parking garage and threatened, “I’ll kill you right now.” Ephron said he dared Mayers to shoot him. “Shoot that shit. Why you brought a gun if you’re not going to use it? You don’t scare me,” he allegedly told Mayers. Ephron testified that people were walking nearby, outside the W Hotel in Hollywood, so Mayers allegedly put the gun in his waistband and started to walk away. Ephron told the court Phillips appeared to be concealing a knife.
“I was talking a bunch of shit,” Ephron said. “I was letting (Mayers) know how much he failed everybody, because nobody else was brave enough to say how they feel about this man.” Ephron said he told Mayers one of their friends was suffering from a crack addiction while another was living in the projects. “I wasn’t doing anything physically. I was just so mad. It didn’t sit well with me, and I wanted him to hear my side. I knew I was never going to see this man again,” Ephron testified. He claimed Mayers eventually turned around and fired an initial shot that “grazed” his left hand. He claimed he rushed to grab Ulanger to use him “as a shield.” He said Mayers fired two or three more times before everyone fled the scene. He said he returned later that night and found two 9mm shell casings that he photographed and gave to police.
Mayers – who shares two children with Rihanna – also is fighting a lawsuit brought by Ephron alleging assault, battery, negligence and intentional infliction of emotional distress. First reported by Rolling Stone, the blockbuster civil complaint filed in August 2022 unmasked Ephron as the alleged victim in the shooting investigation that led to Mayers’ arrest in April 2022.
Ephron, a former A$AP Mob member, alleged 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.
Tacopina later claimed to Rolling Stone that 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 represented 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.