A Los Angeles jury on Friday found rapper Tory Lanez guilty of three felonies in the 2020 shooting of hip-hop star Megan Thee Stallion that left her wounded with bullet fragments in her feet.
The jury deliberated for one day before convicting the 30-year-old Canadian rapper, whose legal name is Daystar Peterson, of assault with a semiautomatic firearm, having a loaded, unregistered firearm in a vehicle and discharging a firearm with gross negligence. The counts could lead to up to 22 years in prison.
Lanez showed no visible reaction as the verdict was read. He was handcuffed while in the courtroom.
After the jury left the courtroom, Lanez’s father, Sonstar Peterson, leapt up and began shouting: “This wicked system stands judged before God almighty!” He then pointed to the two prosecutors in the case and yelled “You two are evil, wicked people. You know exactly what you did.”
Deputies removed him from the courtroom, where he continued to shout in the hallway.
The verdict marks the end of a more than two-year saga that began after Peterson was arrested in July 2020. Weeks after his arrest, Megan Thee Stallion, whose real name is Megan Pete, went on Instagram Live to say Peterson had shot her.
The incident set off a national conversation that peaked during the trial, focusing on the reluctance of Black victims to speak to police, the protection of Black women, gender politics in hip-hop, and online toxicity. The fallout has largely played out online, with both artists using their music and social media to express their perspectives on the story.
Pete testified during the trial that Lanez fired a handgun at the back of her feet and shouted for her to dance as she walked away from car they had been in. She needed surgery to remove bullet fragments from her feet.
In closing arguments, prosecutors emphasised the courage it took for Megan to come forward and the vitriol the 27-year-old has faced for it. They said she had no incentive to tell anything but the truth.
“Why would she lie?” deputy district attorney Alexander Bott said. “She’s been subjected to a stream of hate. For what? For coming forward as a victim of domestic violence?”
Peterson had maintained his innocence throughout, accused Pete of lying about being shot and claimed that her Roc Nation management team was trying to frame him, according to social media posts and lyrics in his September 2020 album.
Lanez’s lawyer alleged in his closing argument that the shots were actually fired by Megan’s friend Kelsey Harris in a jealous fight over Lanez, who tried to stop the shooting. The attorney, George Mgdesyan, argued Megan created a more sympathetic narrative by pinning the shooting on Lanez.
“Megan Pete is a liar. She lied about everything in this case from the beginning,” Mgdesyan said. “She lied under oath here.”
Harris denied being the shooter and identified Lanez as the one holding the gun. In a recorded interview played for jurors at trial, Harris said she saw Peterson fire a gun at Pete’s feet.
Lanez began releasing mixtapes in 2009 and saw a steady rise in popularity, moving on to major-label albums. His last two reached the Top 10 on Billboard’s charts.
Megan Thee Stallion was already a major rising star at the time of the shooting, and her prominence has surged since. She won a Grammy for best new artist in 2021, and had No 1 singles on the Billboard Hot 100 with her own song “Savage,” featuring Beyoncé, and as a guest on Cardi B’s “WAP.”
In her testimony at court, Pete tearfully recounted the months of physical, emotional and mental pain that followed her going public about the shooting allegations.
“I can’t believe I have to come in here and do this,” Pete, 27, said on the witness stand. “I don’t wanna be on this Earth. I wish he woulda shot and killed me if I knew I would go through this torture.”
High-profile women in politics and social justice causes have supported Pete and spoken out about the treatment of the Texas-born rapper. Tamika Mallory, a well-known social justice activist, was in the courtroom audience when Pete gave her testimony. Maxine Waters, the US congresswoman, and Tarana Burke, who started the #MeToo movement, were among more than a dozen others who signed an open letter penned by the Southern Black Girls and Women’s Consortium in support of the rapper who they say is facing “continued verbal and cultural violence”.