Opening statements are scheduled to begin Monday in the trial of rapper Tory Lanez, who is accused of shooting fellow rapper Megan Thee Stallion during an argument in the Hollywood Hills.
Lanez, 30, whose real name is Daystar Peterson, was originally charged with one count each of assault with a semiautomatic firearm and carrying a loaded, unregistered firearm in a vehicle, along with allegations he personally used a firearm and inflicted great bodily injury. But in an amended complaint filed last week at the start of jury selection, prosecutors added a felony count of discharging a firearm with gross negligence.
Lanez had been under house arrest and under electronic monitoring while awaiting trial, but those restrictions were lifted by Superior Court Judge David Herriford last week. Lanez remains out of custody on $350,000 bail.
During a preliminary hearing last year, Los Angeles Police Department Detective Ryan Stogner testified that he spoke with Megan Thee Stallion, and she told him she heard Lanez say, “Dance, bitch,” before he fired a gun at her at about 4:30 a.m. July 12, 2020, as the bikini-clad woman got out of a Cadillac SUV for the second time that morning following an argument.
“No one heard, `Dance, bitch,’ except for Megan?” defense attorney Shawn Holley asked on cross-examination.
“Correct,” the detective responded.
The alleged victim, identified in the criminal by her real name of Megan Pete, said her feet were “bleeding profusely” and that she fell to the ground and crawled to a nearby driveway, according to the detective.
She said a female friend who had been in the vehicle ran up to her afterward, along with Lanez, and that he “emphatically apologized for what he did” and offered to drive her home.
The detective said Megan Thee Stallion told police Lanez “offered her money” and begged her not to say anything, telling her that he was on probation — something Stogner said he could never substantiate.
The vehicle was subsequently stopped by police officers responding to a call of a shooting, and she initially told officers and doctors she had not been shot and that broken glass had caused the injuries to her feet, according to the detective.
She told the detective she was “extremely scared and embarrassed,” was “scared he was going to get in trouble” and was concerned the police might shoot him, but was “sincere,” “visibly distraught” and “crying” when she subsequently admitted Lanez had shot her, Stogner testified.
Some of the bullet fragments were subsequently removed from her feet by an orthopedic surgeon at Cedars-Sinai Medical Center, but some still remain inside her, and she reported that she has ongoing physical therapy and difficulty walking in some types of shoes, according to the detective.
Following his arrest, Lanez made a jailhouse phone call to her female friend as she waited at the hospital and “he continued to apologize for the incident that occurred” and explained he was basically drunk, the investigating officer testified.
In an outburst from the opposite side of the courtroom during the hearing last Dec. 14, Lanez questioned aloud how the detective could tell why he was apologizing during the call.
“Does he say anything in the jail call about shooting?” Holley asked the detective.
“No,” Stogner responded.
Megan Thee Stallion, who was bleeding, and Lanez were among four people in the SUV that was stopped about a mile from the scene of where shots were reported, according to LAPD Officer Sandra Cabral.
A handgun that was “warm to the touch” was discovered inside the vehicle, and four spent casings were subsequently found at the scene, Cabral testified.
In a video posted on Instagram Live following the shooting, Megan Thee Stallion said, “Tory shot me. You shot me and you got your publicist and your people are lying … Stop lying.”
She said police officers drove her to a hospital, where she underwent surgery, and added she was “incredibly grateful to be alive.”
In an op-ed published in The New York Times, she wrote that she was “recently the victim of an act of violence by a man” and that she was initially silent about what had happened “out of fear for myself and my friends.”
“Even as a victim, I have been met with skepticism and judgment,” she wrote. “The way people have publicly questioned and debated whether I played a role in my own violent assault proves that my fears about discussing what happened were, unfortunately, warranted.”
The rapper gained fame in part through freestyling videos shared widely on Instagram. Her song “Savage” went viral on TikTok and topped the Billboard Hot 100 chart in May 2020, while her provocative collaboration with Cardi B on “WAP” garnered her more attention.
In a posting last year on Twitter, Lanez wrote, “I have all faith in God to show that … love to all my fans and people that have stayed true to me & know my heart … a charge is not a conviction.”