Lady Justice 3 16-9The rapper known as “The Game” pleaded not guilty Monday to charges stemming from two alleged run-ins less than two weeks apart, including one in which he’s accused of punching and threatening an off-duty police officer in the midst of a basketball game.

Jayceon Taylor, 36, has been ordered to proceed to trial on one felony count of criminal threats and one misdemeanor count of assault and battery involving the alleged run-in with the off-duty LAPD officer, Onyebuchi Awaji, during a March 29 basketball game involving adults at Hollywood High School.

The off-duty officer testified during a preliminary hearing earlier this month that Taylor — who was playing on the opposing basketball team — punched him in the face with a closed fist after intentionally fouling him during the third quarter of the game.

“I was kind of stunned, dazed,” Awaji testified.

The officer said that he returned to the court and heard Taylor say to him, “I’m going to see you outside. I’m going to kill you.” Awaji said Taylor invoked the name of a gang, then left the gym with his entourage.

Taylor has also been ordered to stand trial on one felony count of second-degree robbery and one misdemeanor count of criminal threats involving a man who had been assigned to film Taylor being served with legal papers outside his home April 11.

The videographer, Justin Willard, testified that Taylor jumped over a fence at his property, put his hand against his shoulders, took his camera and threatened to knock him out if he returned to the property.

Both of the alleged victims have acknowledged that a civil lawsuit has been filed against Taylor on their behalf.

Taylor pleaded no contest in February 2008 to possession of a firearm in a school zone for pulling out a weapon after getting into a dispute at a pickup basketball game at the Rita Walters Educational Learning Complex in South Los Angeles in February 2007.

He was sentenced to 60 days in jail, ordered to perform 150 hours of community service and placed on three years probation, and ended up serving eight days of the jail term before being released.

Rodrick Shannon, who was coaching a rival team, testified at Taylor’s preliminary hearing that the rapper took a swing at him near the end of the Feb. 24, 2007, game. He said he later saw Taylor approaching him with a gun.

“Once I saw him grab the gun, I ran,” Shannon testified.

Taylor remains free on bail while awaiting a Jan. 11 pretrial hearing at the downtown Los Angeles courthouse.

—City News Service

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