A$AP Rocky Will Stand Trial in January After Being Accused of Firing Gun at A$AP Relli

At a Monday preliminary hearing in Los Angeles, a judge determined there was sufficient evidence to proceed with trial

<p>BACKGRID</p> A$AP Rocky arrives to court in Los Angeles on Nov. 20, 2023


A$AP Rocky arrives to court in Los Angeles on Nov. 20, 2023

A$AP Rocky, who has been accused of firing a semi-automatic handgun at his former friend and plaintiff A$AP Relli after a heated discussion, will face trial in January.

In a Monday preliminary hearing in Los Angeles, Judge M.L. Villar ruled that there was sufficient evidence for the rapper, né Rakim Mayers — who pleaded not guilty to two counts of assault with a firearm in August 2022 — to stand trial for allegations surrounding the Nov. 6, 2021 incident.

"I am certain Rocky will be vindicated of all of this," the rapper's lawyer Joe Tacopina said outside the courthouse.

During the hearing, Detective Frank Flores took the stand and new surveillance video was unveiled, in addition to what was shown at the previous hearing earlier this month. In the new footage, two loud pops, which the prosecution team said is the alleged shooting, were heard but not seen.

Flores confirmed he reviewed the footage in his investigation and Rocky, 35, had a gun in his hand during the altercation. Under cross examination, however, he revealed the gun was never recovered. Meanwhile, the two shell casings that were recovered from the scene by Relli (real name Terell Ephron) and turned into police two days later had no fingerprints.

Related: A$AP Rocky's Gun Assault Case: Surveillance Video of Rapper Holding Firearm Shown in Court

The "Praise the Lord" rapper's trial is set to begin on Jan. 8.

At the previous hearing, a photo of Relli's minor injuries displayed in the courtroom showed small patches of raw, bloody skin on the knuckles of his index, middle and ring fingers on his left hand.

According to legal documents obtained by PEOPLE, Relli filed a civil suit for assault, battery and emotional distress against Rocky on Aug. 10, 2022.

Rocky (who has two children — sons RZA, 18 months, and Riot, 3 months — with his partner, pop superstar Rihanna, 35) has denied all claims.

In his answer to the civil complaint, his attorneys wrote, "Defendant generally denies each and every allegation of the complaint, and specifically denies that Plaintiff has been damaged in any amount or in any way as a result of any act or omission of answering defendant. The injuries and/or damages complained of in the complaint, if any, were caused solely, directly and proximately by the negligent and/or intentional acts or omissions of person other than answering defendant."

Relli — a former fellow member of the hip-hop collective A$AP Mob — claimed he was struck by bullet fragments after the argument, and said in court that he sought necessary medical attention at a hospital in New York City. The two men were childhood friends and went to high school together in New York.

“We were really cool. We were chill all the time,” Relli recalled on the stand, before stating that tension started to build when Rocky found solo success and became "big-headed."

After their friend and Mob member A$AP Josh died in October 2021, Relli testified that his mother asked for financial help to bring his body back to New York and that Rocky promised to financially help via group text. Although defense attorney Tacopina claimed Rocky did pay in full, at the time Relli didn't believe this happened, he told the court.

A month later — and days before Rocky was headlining ComplexCon — Relli said he overheard Rocky badmouthing him on speakerphone to another friend and decided to end their friendship. “Truthfully, it felt good. I was mentally preparing myself to leave and don’t need that stigma or type of people. [Rocky] was never going to help,” Relli said.

He told the court that he later spotted Rocky with his two friends Illijah Ulanga (A$AP Illz) and Jamil Phillips (A$AP Twelvyy) in front of a parking garage on Hollywood Boulevard. Surveillance video shown in the courtroom appeared to show Rocky walking toward Relli and shoving him.

"He grabbed me on my collar. He was shaking me. I tried to push him off, get his hands off,” Relli said in the courtroom. “That’s when [Rocky] pulled a gun from his waistband. It was a standard clip and a semi-automatic black gun.”

“He pointed it toward my stomach,” Relli continued. “I’ll kill you right now,” he alleged that Rocky said to him.

“Oh, he was angry," he continued. "He had [the gun] pressed up against me, to my chest then head.”

“I said, ‘Shoot it’ because I was mad," added Relli. "I said ‘Why you bring a gun if you not going to use it?’ I would never bring a weapon. Not in that situation."

The surveillance footage (with no sound) then showed the group of men involved in an altercation on the corner of Selma Avenue and Vista Del Mar Avenue in Hollywood.

“Rocky turned around and shot at me,” Relli claimed Wednesday, noting he was approximately 16 feet from him. “It all looked like a movie.” He continued to testify that Rocky shot "three or four" more times at Relli, who said he used A$AP Illz as a human shield.

Related: A$AP Rocky Says 'Making Children' with Rihanna Is Their Best Collaboration: 'Nothing's Better Than That'

The video ended with one member of the group sprinting away as the two other men fled on foot after the gun was allegedly fired. About an hour later, Relli testified, he went back to the scene to retrieve two 9mm shell casings from the incident. Under cross-examination, Relli admitted that he didn’t call 911 until two days later because he wanted to retain a lawyer first.

Rocky was subsequently arrested at Los Angeles International Airport on April 20, 2022, and was released on bail the same day, per the Los Angeles Times. He was returning on a private plane from Barbados, where he was vacationing with Rihanna (who was not present in court on Wednesday) — only a few weeks before the birth of the couple's first son RZA. Rocky was later released after posting a $550,000 bond, according to the outlet.

Following the arrest, Los Angeles police detectives searched the rapper's home seeking evidence concerning the case. According to the Los Angeles Times, detectives had the artist under surveillance for some time and tracked his return from the island.

Relli's lawyers claimed in the civil complaint that Rocky's conduct was "extreme and outrageous" and caused their client to suffer "severe emotional distress." Relli is suing for more than $25,000 in general damages, additional money to cover his medical bills and punitive damages of an unspecified amount in civil court.

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