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Rapper Tory Lanez begins trial on charges he shot Megan Thee Stallion in Hollywood

Tory Lanez, left, and Megan Thee Stallion
Rapper Tory Lanez, left, is accused of shooting fellow artist Megan Thee Stallion in the foot during a 2020 argument in Hollywood. She is expected to testify Tuesday.
(Associated Press)
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Tory Lanez is so adamant he didn’t shoot Megan Thee Stallion that he spent an entire album denying it.

“How the f— you get shot in your foot, don’t hit no bones or tendons?” the Canadian rapper asked in the opening track to his 2020 release, “Daystar.” “How the f— your team is tryna to paint me as some whole menace?”

In the critically panned, hourlong album, Lanez repeatedly said the superstar Houston rapper and her team framed him for the July 2020 attack that sent her to a Los Angeles hospital, while bemoaning their lost friendship.

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The album was just one episode in a saga that saw Lanez — whose real name is Daystar Peterson — arrested on suspicion of carrying a concealed weapon before Megan Thee Stallion publicly accused him in a viral Instagram video of shooting her. She then ripped his version of events apart in the song “Shots Fired.”

Tory Lanez, a Canadian rapper, was found guilty of shooting Megan Thee Stallion outside a Hollywood Hills mansion in 2020. Here’s everything you need to know about the trial.

Dec. 24, 2022

Arguments over what really happened between the two on a Hollywood Hills street in 2020 finally moved from the recording booth to a courtroom Monday Peterson’s trial on assault charges began. If convicted of shooting the “Savage” and “WAP” rapper, Peterson could face nearly 23 years in prison.

The case has reinvigorated discussions about misogyny in a hip-hop industry that Megan Thee Stallion, whose legal last name is Pete, has upended with songs that often depict women wielding power over men. And it comes after a series of violent attacks on hip-hop artists in Los Angeles in recent years, including the killings of Nipsey Hussle, Drakeo the Ruler and PnB Rock.

The trial is expected to last about eight days, and Pete, 27, will testify on Tuesday, according to L.A. County Deputy Dist. Atty. Alexander Bott. It is unclear if Peterson, 30, will testify.

Prosecutors allege the shooting happened shortly after both artists left a party at the Hollywood Hills home of Kylie Jenner, a member of the Kardashian clan, in July 2020. The pair was riding in an SUV with a woman named Kelsey Harris — a longtime friend of Pete from whom she is now estranged — and Peterson’s bodyguard.

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During his opening arguments on Monday, Bott said the two artists got into a heated dispute when Pete derided Peterson’s rap skills. At some point, Pete demanded to be let out of the car. Peterson then yelled “dance, bitch!” before firing five rounds at Pete, Bott said.

Megan Thee Stallion unveiled the track list for her new album, including “Shots Fired,” after accusing Tory Lanez of shooting her over the summer.

Nov. 17, 2020

The gunshots prompted a slew of 911 calls, and Los Angeles police officers eventually pulled over the SUV the two were riding in near Hollywood Boulevard. Initially, Pete told police that she injured her feet by stepping on broken glass at Jenner’s party.

Weeks later, however, she accused Peterson in an Instagram Live video of shooting her. She has said she hesitated to report the assault to Los Angeles police, as she feared how officers would react in the wake of the recent killings of George Floyd and Breonna Taylor by police in Minneapolis and Louisville, Ky.

Peterson was first arrested on suspicion of possessing an unregistered firearm. His defense team has questioned Pete’s logic about waiting to report the shooting, noting that, if she were concerned about police behavior, she could have told paramedics or doctors at Cedars-Sinai Hospital how she was injured while having bullet fragments removed from her feet.

Prosecutors have also said Peterson made a remorseful phone call to one of Pete’s friends from jail the night of the incident.

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“I’m deeply sorry … so I feel crazy that I made a mistake,” Peterson said, according to a partial transcript of the call read in court by prosecutors during a preliminary hearing last year. “What happened, happened already. I can’t take it back. I’m just telling y’all I’m sorry.”

On Monday, Bott played a portion of the voicemail in which Peterson acknowledged that he was drunk at the time of the shooting and apologized profusely for his actions, though he never admits to firing a gun at Pete.

“I’m sorry from the bottom of my heart ... s— should have never happened and I can’t change what I did,” Peterson texted to Pete the next night, according to Bott.

In an interview this year, Pete also claimed that Peterson apologized at the scene, begged her not to tell anyone about the incident and offered $1 million for her silence.

“I’m like, ‘What are you talking about? Why are you offering me money right now?’” she said. “Help me! If you sorry, just help me!”

Peterson loudly objected to the phone call being read in court last year, and his defense team says the message was taken out of context.

“When the time comes you’ll know what he was apologizing about. Clearly the D.A.’s office has taken it out of context and wants to run with what fits their theory of the case,” defense attorney George Mgdesyan said last week. “But the truth of the matter is, the reason my client said everything and apologized about everything he did, but never mentioned the shooting, is because that’s not what he was apologizing for.”

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During his opening statement Monday, Mgdesyan said the case was about “jealousy” between Pete and Harris. The two friends have not spoken for more than two years, according to Mgdesyan, who recast the scene inside the SUV as an argument between the two women about Peterson.

Mgdesyan said Pete and Peterson had a sexual relationship after Harris was involved with him, a situation that left her furious because Pete went “behind her back.” Mgdesyan said the women had clashed before over similar situations involving men.

Mgdesyan also repeatedly harped on the idea that Peterson’s DNA was not found on either the gun used in the shooting or the magazine expelled from it, while tests showed gunshot residue on Harris and Peterson’s bodyguard too. People can test positive for such residue by standing near a person who has fired a weapon, however.

The shooting was a critical part of a landmark year for both artists. Pete had been ascendant in rap circles for years but exploded to international prominence in 2020 with the remix of her hit “Savage,” alongside Beyoncé, and the smash hit “WAP,” a raunchy tag-team effort with Cardi B that only gained more attention each time someone complained about the track.

For Peterson, an Ontario native and arguably the biggest Canadian hip-hop import to the U.S. aside from Drake, the shooting allegations short-circuited his career. “Daystar,” the album Peterson released in the wake of the shooting, was largely ignored by critics, drawing more attention for its attacks on Pete than its bars and beats. Drake also engendered controversy this year when he released a song, “Circo Loco,” implying Pete lied about the shooting.

The attacks on the credibility of Pete’s allegations have drawn frustration from a number of prominent figures. Rep. Maxine Waters (D-Los Angeles) and Alexis McGill Johnson, chief executive of Planned Parenthood, signed an open letter in support of Pete in response to the Drake controversy last month. The rapper herself has at times thrown her hands up in exasperation.

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“I’m a victim,” Pete said about the shooting during an interview this year. “I’m the victim. I’m not defending myself against anything. Something happened to me.”

Still, the prosecution’s case has hit snags.

In court last week, Deputy Dist. Atty. Kathy Ta also acknowledged that the lead detective on the case, Ryan Stogner, had been fired from the LAPD in the wake of domestic violence allegations.

Court records show prosecutors declined to bring charges against Stogner, who is going through an extremely contentious divorce, after a physical altercation with his estranged wife in Lancaster this year.

In a brief declination memo outlining why Stogner was not charged, prosecutors said the case could not be filed due to “problems of proof” and the fact that Stogner might have had a valid self-defense claim against his estranged wife. The two separated in 2017, records show.

It was unclear when Stogner was fired, and the LAPD did not respond to a request for comment. A spokesman for the district attorney’s office would not say when prosecutors became aware of the issue.

Ta said she had no plans to call Stogner as a witness, but Mgdesyan intends to, alleging the detective bungled the entire investigation.

“Detective Stogner is one of, if not the, most important witness for the defense,” he said. “This is a detective who I will argue has botched the investigation... He only chose to do certain things that were incriminating to my client.”

While Mgdesyan has implied that Harris and Pete’s broken friendship has left Pete at odds with the prosecution, both Bott and Pete’s personal attorney, Alex Spiro, have said she plans to testify.

“She’s a prosecution witness and she has a contemporaneous text message that she sent that is marked in time forever and ever where she says, without any doubt, ‘Tory shot Meg,’” Spiro said of Harris. “That will come into evidence, and that’s devastating evidence.”

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