Canada's Tory Lanez Awaits Verdict In Shooting Trial
Canadian rapper Tory Lanez could find out before Christmas if jurors believe he shot Megan Thee Stallion.
Deliberations began Thursday after a nine-day trial in Los Angeles and a verdict could come at any moment.
Lanez, an Ontario native whose real name is Daystar Peterson, is on trial for assault with a firearm, carrying a loaded and unregistered firearm and discharging a firearm with gross negligence.
If convicted, Lanez – who lives in Florida – faces a sentence of up to 22 years and eight months behind bars as well as deportation.
In closing arguments, according to reporting, prosecutor Alexander Bott said the case is a simple one – Lanez is “a guy who shot a girl, then apologized for it.”
Defence lawyer George Mgdesyan countered that Lanez got caught in a fight between Megan and her then-friend Kelsey Harris and it was, in fact, Harris who fired the gun.
As jurors began deliberations, Megan’s boyfriend Pardi posted an Instagram Story to show his support.
“To any woman especially ones of colour that has suffered an injustice I feel for you,” he wrote. “When you do find the courage to speak up .. it seems you will be ridiculed .. your credibility will [be] questioned .. your entire past will be held under a magnifying glass .. in an instant you can go from victim to defendant in the eyes of the public.
“I wouldn’t wish this on anyone.”
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Lanez did not take the stand at his trial but Megan testified that she got into an argument with Lanez while they were driving away from a party at Kylie Jenner’s house in July 2020. Things got more heated when Harris, who had a crush on Lanez, learned that the two rap stars had occasionally hooked up.
Megan said she asked to be let out of the vehicle – but quickly realized it wasn't a good idea to get out because she was wearing a thong bikini "and I look crazy, and if anybody sees me walking down the street like this, it’s going to be bad for me."
Back inside the SUV, she and Lanez swapped insults about their music careers. “Tory was basically telling me I wasn’t s**t, and I said, ‘Actually, You ain’t s**t. This is where you at in your career. This is where you at with your music.’ And I feel like that really rubbed him the wrong way," she testified. "He kept yelling and cursing."
Megan asked again to be let out of the vehicle and, as she began walking away, Lanez yelled “Dance, bitch!” and shot at her in the feet. “I’m in shock. I’m scared," she recalled. "I hear the gun going off, and I can’t believe he’s shooting at me. He was holding the gun, pointing it at me."
Megan said she crawled to a nearby driveway and saw a lot of blood. With everyone in shock, they got back into the car and drove off, with Megan trying to stop the bleeding using towels.
She testified that Lanez immediately begged her not to report the shooting. "He’s saying, ‘Please don’t say anything. I’ll give y’all a million dollars. I can’t go to jail. I already got caught with a gun before.'"
When police pulled the vehicle over, Megan said she did not tell officers she had been shot because it was the summer after the murder of George Floyd by a Minneapolis police officer. “I felt like if I said this man has just shot me, they might shoot first and ask questions later,” she said in court. “I don’t feel safe in the car. I don’t feel safe with the police officers either.”
Megan said “in the Black community, it’s not really acceptable to be cooperating with police officers.”
She testified that following the incident Lanez contacted her several times to apologize.
Jason Armond / Los Angeles Times/Getty Images
Harris mostly backed this version of events during a videotaped interview with prosecutors in September but changed her tune on the witness stand.
She testified that she did not see Lanez shoot Megan and claimed she was “not truthful” in the interview. Harris told jurors there were heated arguments in the SUV – “There was so much going back and forth, name calling (between) me and Megan, Tory and Megan, Tory and Me, Megan and Tory” – but it was all “a blur” and everyone involved was under the influence.
Asked by prosecutor Kathy Ta who shot Megan, Harris replied: “I don’t know.” Asked whether she heard anyone shout “Dance, bitch!” before opening fire, she answered: “I don’t know where that came from, so no.”
Harris replied “no” when Mgdesyan asked if his client paid her for her silence. Later, she said she “can’t remember” if Lanez offered her $1 million to say quiet about what happened.
She also brushed off Mgdesyan’s suggestion that it was her who pulled the trigger as “ridiculous.”
Defence witness Sean Kelly, who lives near the scene of the altercation, was expected to testify that he saw Harris fire the gun.
But on the stand, Kelly gave conflicting and sometimes confusing testimony. He said a man fitting Lanez’s description was”really agitated” and “firing everywhere.” He insisted he only saw muzzle flashes. “I want to be clear, I never saw a gun, okay.”
When Mgdesyan asked Kelly from whose hand did he see the flashes, he said Harris but added that “they were all together, they were very close together.”
Earlier, a crime scene analyst testified that gunshot residue was found on both Lanez and Harris.
Kelly claimed Lanez was “very angry” and shouting. “Then the flashes then came from him,” he said. “I never saw a gun. They were all fighting, so I just assumed he grabbed the gun.”
Mgdesyan asked Kelly if he saw Lanez with a gun in his hand. “Yes,” he answered.
Under cross examination, Kelly said Lanez’s arms were outstretched and he fired four or five shots while shouting a “torrent of abuse.” He claimed Lanez was “going crazy.”
During redirect, Kelly told Mgdesyan he believes Harris fired the first shot.
Tory Lanez, pictured in 2021. Rich Fury / Getty Images
In August 2021, Lanez's bail was raised by $60,000 U.S. when he was found guilty of violating a court order by attending a music festival where Megan Thee Stallion performed.
Then, this past April, he was taken into custody in a Los Angeles courtroom after a judge ruled that he violated court orders preventing him from discussing any discovery in the case with outside parties. Lanez’s bail was increased from $250,000 to $350,000 U.S.
In October, Lanez was placed under house arrest and ordered to wear an ankle monitor until his trial following an altercation with singer August Alsina in Chicago.
As the trial got underway, a charge of discharging a firearm with gross negligence was added. During the trial, the prosecution tried to add two charges of witness tampering based on testimony by Megan and Harris that Lanez allegedly offered them a million dollars to stay silent. Judge David Herriford denied the motion.
In June, Megan told Rolling Stone what she hopes will happen to Lanez if he is convicted. “I want him to go to jail,” she said. “I want him to go under the jail.
“I never put my hands on this man. I never did anything to him. There was an argument. People argue every day. Friends argue every day.”
Before the trial, Lanez paraphrased Bible scripture Isaiah 54:17 in a tweet. “No weapon formed against me shall prosper …. EVER.”
Lanez has released seven studio albums since 2016, including September's Sorry 4 What, and has collected three consecutive JUNO Awards for Rap Recording of the Year. He also earned the JUNO for R&B/Soul Recording of the Year for a collaboration with Jessie Reyez and Tainy.
The rapper was briefly detained by Miami Beach Police in 2018 during a brawl outside a nightclub but was released at the scene without charges. In 2017, Lanez was charged with carrying a concealed weapon, possession of marijuana and driving without a license after being pulled over by police in Miramar, Florida. The weapon charge was later dropped.
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