Jury Finds Canada's Tory Lanez Guilty Of Shooting Megan Thee Stallion
After seven hours of deliberation over two days, a jury in Los Angeles on Friday found Canadian rapper Tory Lanez guilty of shooting Megan Thee Stallion in July 2020.
The Ontario native, whose real name is Daystar Peterson, now faces up to 22 years and 8 months in prison as well as deportation to Canada. Sentencing has been scheduled for Jan. 27.
"The jury got it right," said Alex Spiro, a lawyer for Megan, in a statement. "I am thankful there is justice for Meg."
According to reports, Lanez showed no reaction as the verdict was read inside a courtroom at the Clara Shortridge Foltz Criminal Justice Center. He was taken into custody.
Lanez’s father Sonstar Peterson, an ordained minister, stood and began shouting after jurors had left the courtroom, according to the Associated Press. “This wicked system stands judged before God almighty!” he shouted, and then pointed at the two prosecutors. “You two are evil, wicked people. You know exactly what you did.” He continued shouting as he was removed from the courtroom by deputies.
Lanez's stepmother also shouted protests in the courtroom.
“We are shocked by the verdict," the rapper's lawyer George Mgdesyan said, in a statement. "There was not sufficient evidence to convict Mr. Peterson. We believe this case was not proven beyond a reasonable doubt. We will be exploring all options including an appeal."
The verdict came following a nine-day trial at which a jury of seven women and five men heard from Megan as well as two witnesses who cast doubt about who pulled the trigger. (It also comes almost exactly one year after Lanez donned a Santa hat and gave away bicycles, toys and clothing to people in South Florida.)
Lanez, who did not take the stand, often showed up at the trial with his young son Kai’Lon.
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Lanez was initially arrested for carrying a concealed weapon on July 12, 2020 after police officers responded to calls about an altercation. At the time, Megan said her feet were bleeding because she had stepped on glass. He was released on $35,000 U.S. bail.
At trial, Megan testified that 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.”
Days later, Megan said publicly that her injuries were the result of being shot. “The narrative that is being reported about Sunday morning’s events are inaccurate and I’d like to set the record straight,” she wrote in a message on social media. “On Sunday morning, I suffered gunshot wounds, as a result of a crime that was committed against me and done with the intention to physically harm me.”
The rap star, whose real name is Megan Pete, did not name Lanez as the shooter or provide any further details about the incident except to say she underwent surgery to remove bullet fragments. "I’m incredibly grateful to be alive and that I’m expected to make a full recovery, but it was important for me to clarify the details about this traumatic night," she wrote. “I’m currently focused on my recovery, so I can return back to my life and back to making music as soon as possible."
Megan later said, in an Instagram Live: “I was shot in both of my feet, and I had to get surgery to get the s**t taken out, get the bullets taken out, and it was super scary." She called it "the worst experience of my life, and it’s not funny ... I didn’t put my hands on nobody. I didn’t deserve to get shot.”
On Aug. 20, 2020, Megan publicly identified Lanez as the person who shot her. “Yes … Tory shot me," she said. "You shot me and you got your publicist and your people going to these blogs lying and s**t."
In September, Lanez addressed the incident for the first time in "Money Over Fallouts," a track on DAYSTAR. “Megan people trying to frame me for a shooting / But them boys ain’t clean enough," he raps. “I see how they teaming up, watching and I’m calculating / Gotta keep it quiet, I can’t jeopardize the outcome waiting.”
Later, he raps: “I would never put you in no danger / and if I did you would have said it when you seen the cops ... Look at how you doing me / People tryin’ to ruin me / And what’s even worse is I’m still thinking about you and me.”
Lanez followed up with a tweet. “To my fans ... I’m sorry for my silence .... but respectfully .. I got time today,” he wrote. “There is a time to stay silent . And a time to speak ..... I said all I could say on this ... I’ll be back to y’all soon .... respectfully ….”
Lanez was charged on Oct. 8, 2020 with assault with a firearm and carrying a loaded and unregistered firearm. The Los Angeles County District Attorney’s Office said, in a release: “On July 12, the defendant and [Stallion] got into an argument while riding in an SUV in the Hollywood Hills. The victim exited the vehicle and Peterson is accused of shooting several times at her feet and wounding her."
He pleaded not guilty in November 2020.
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.
Jason Armond / Los Angeles Times/Getty Images
In closing arguments, according to reporting, prosecutor Alexander Bott said the case was a simple one – Lanez is “a guy who shot a girl, then apologized for it.”
The defence 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.
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.'"
She said that following the incident Lanez contacted her several times to apologize.
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.”
Tory Lanez, pictured in 2020. Erik Voake / Getty Images
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.
In June, Megan told Rolling Stone what she hopes will happen to Lanez if he was 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.
Listen to music from Tory Lanez & Megan Thee Stallion