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A$AP Rocky pleads not guilty in 2021 shooting of childhood friend

Rocky's lawyer, Joe Tacopina, told reporters that his client, the Grammy-nominated rapper, was the "victim in this case."

LOS ANGELES (CN) — Rapper A$AP Rocky appeared in a downtown LA courtroom on Monday to plead not guilty to charges that he fired a gun at a longtime friend and collaborator in Hollywood in 2021.

Rocky, 35, whose real name is Rakim Mayers, is a two-time Grammy nominee, as well as the father of two children with pop star Rihanna. He has been accused of shooting a former childhood friend, Terell Ephron, who used to be a part of the ASAP collective — using the stage name A$AP Relli — with Rocky.

The two had a falling out that culminated in a standoff in November 2021. In a preliminary hearing held last year, Ephron testified that Rocky pulled a gun and fired, with the shots grazing Ephron's knuckles.

Surveillance video that captured part of the incident appeared to confirm Ephron's story.

Rocky appeared relaxed in court, with his legs crossed, wearing a baggy gray suit, pinstripe shirt and black gloves. His attorney, Joe Tacopina — who also represents former President Donald Trump in his New York criminal case centered around hush money payments to adult film actress Stormy Daniels — entered the plea of "not guilty" to two criminal counts of assault with a semi-automatic weapon.

After the short hearing, Tacopina told reporters the case will go to trial, and promised that his client will be "vindicated."

"We're going to try the case in the courtroom," Tacopina said. "And when we do, facts will come out that show that he's truly innocent. And that he's a victim in this case."

He added: "We hope to be on trial by September in this case. I want to get this done and over with so he can start enjoying his family and move on."

Ephron has filed two lawsuits against Rocky related to the shooting: one a simple assault complaint, the other a defamation suit, against both Rocky and Tacopina, for comments to the media about Ephron — or in the words of the complaint, for engaging in "a press campaign to impugn and malign [Ephron], painting him in the press as a liar, a money grabber and a blackmailer."

The complaint attributes several statements to Tacopina, including: "Rocky didn’t commit a crime. It was an extortion attempt by a former associate, who threatened to make false criminal accusations if Rocky didn’t pay him," and "A$AP Rocky is the victim of a failed shakedown and fabricated shooting accusation orchestrated by his ‘jealous’ former friend A$AP Relli.”

Speaking to reporters, Tacopina suggested that he would use that strategy — suggesting Ephron made up or exaggerated charges to be able to sue Rocky — during the criminal trial.

"The civil case, and him asking for millions of dollars, is a motivating factor," said Tacopina. "And it goes to the credibility of any witness."

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Categories / Criminal, Entertainment

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