Driver in Nipsey Hussle case went to LAPD but was turned away, records show
The night after Nipsey Hussle was killed, the woman who drove the alleged shooter from the scene saw something alarming on the news: her car and license plate.
“Oh my God,” she told her mom, according to her May testimony before a grand jury. “My car is on here and everything and I didn’t do anything. I didn’t know this boy was gonna do this.”
Right away, her mom called the police, who relayed that detectives would be in at 6 a.m. The next morning, they decided, they’d go to the station and tell police the truth.
But when she showed up at the 77th Street station and told a front desk officer that she wanted to talk to someone because her car was linked to a murder, she testified, an officer turned her away.
“One of the police officers is like, ‘Well, don’t worry about it,’ you know, ‘Don’t listen to the news,’” the woman testified. “My mom said, ‘Well, she needs to talk to somebody.’ But he said, ‘Don’t worry about it.’ So we just left.”
The woman did get in touch with detectives later that morning. But her testimony raises questions about why she apparently wasn’t taken seriously when she first tried to report what she knew about a shooting that sparked worldwide headlines and days of memorials and grieving far beyond Hussle’s South L.A. neighborhood. Two other people were wounded.
A Los Angeles Police Department spokesman said that the woman did not explicitly say her car was involved in a murder and that the conversation was a misunderstanding between her and the desk officer.
“She was not making herself clear of what she was doing,” said Josh Rubenstein, adding that the officer thought she was reporting that someone was just recording video of her car on television.
Rubenstein said the woman, realizing that the officer didn’t understand her, returned “a very short period” later to clarify.
“I’m told there’s no misconduct,” he said.
An LAPD detective corroborated the woman’s account when questioned by a prosecutor during the grand jury hearing, saying the woman showed up at 7 a.m. to “basically either turn herself in or to find out why her vehicle was on — or to speak with detectives regarding her vehicle being on the news,” the transcripts show.
“So if she testified that she walked in and somebody told her, ‘Oh, don’t worry about it,’ that would be true?” Deputy Dist. Atty. John McKinney asked.
“That is true according to the desk officer that I spoke to about it,” LAPD Det. Cedric Washington replied.
“OK. He apparently missed a briefing in the chief’s press conference that day, I guess,” the prosecutor quipped.
The woman, who was granted immunity in exchange for her testimony, said that after she left the station the first time, she reported to work. Her mother then called her, saying her car was still on the news. So they sought police out again.
She said she then met with detectives, who interviewed her for five hours.
The woman, who works as a caregiver and driver, was not identified by name in the transcripts because of numerous credible threats to her safety. She said she met the shooting suspect, Eric Holder, in February.
After a three-day hearing, the grand jury panel returned a six-count indictment charging Holder with one count of murder, two counts each of attempted murder and assault with a firearm and one count of possession of a firearm by a felon. He has pleaded not guilty.
According to testimony, the March 31 shooting occurred after Holder and Hussle had a conversation about snitching in the parking lot of a Hyde Park strip mall where Hussle owned several businesses.
Holder and the woman had gone to the area to grab something to eat. After they pulled into the parking lot, Holder spotted Hussle and walked over to his group. The woman wanted a photo with Hussle, so she also approached.
She said she heard Holder asking Hussle, “Cuz, have you ever snitched?”
She took a selfie with the rapper and went back to her car, where she uploaded the photo to her Facebook profile. Holder, meanwhile, picked up chili cheese fries and returned to the car.
As she drove around the block, Holder pulled out a gun and started loading it, she testified.
She pulled over so he could eat, and a few minutes later, he told her he’d be right back. Moments later, she said, she heard two gunshots. People ran from the area.
The woman said Holder returned angry and jumped back into her car. She testified that when she asked what happened, he said to drive away or he would slap her.
Holder, who was arrested two days after the shooting, is being held in lieu of $6.5-million bail. If convicted, he faces life in state prison.
Start your day right
Sign up for Essential California for news, features and recommendations from the L.A. Times and beyond in your inbox six days a week.
You may occasionally receive promotional content from the Los Angeles Times.