Tory Lanez Found Guilty of Shooting Megan Thee Stallion
On Friday, a Los Angeles jury found the rapper Tory Lanez guilty of shooting Megan Thee Stallion. Megan accused Lanez of shooting her in the feet in July 2020 following an argument between them that took place in an SUV, and prosecutors brought gun and assault charges against the Canadian rapper. During eight days of testimony, Megan offered an emotional account of the night of the fight and said that Lanez offered her and her former friend and assistant Kelsey Harris, who was also in the car, $1 million not to speak out. Lanez’s attorneys tried to position Harris as the shooter, and Lanez declined to testify. Lanez faces up to 22 years and 8 months in prison after being convicted on all three counts in the case.
In a statement, Los Angeles district attorney George Gascón pointed to the backlash Megan has received since going public with her accusation. “You showed incredible courage and vulnerability with your testimony despite repeated and grotesque attacks that you did not deserve,” he said. “You faced unjust and despicable scrutiny that no woman should ever face and you have been an inspiration to others across La County and the nation.”
“The jury got it right,” Megan’s attorney Alex Spiro said. “I am thankful there is justice for Meg.”
In her testimony last week, Megan largely repeated what she’s said in interviews and on social media about what happened on the night of the shooting. In her telling, an ongoing conflict over the course of an evening–the group had been coming from a pool party at Kylie Jenner’s home–escalated after Lanez said in the car that he had had sexual relationships with both Megan and Harris. She said the argument turned towards the state of the two rappers’ careers. “Tory was basically telling me I wasn’t shit,” she testified, “and I said, ‘Actually, You ain’t shit. 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.” Then, according to Megan, she exited the vehicle, and Lanez yelled, “Dance, bitch!” and began shooting at her.
During his cross-examination of Megan, Lanez’s attorney George Mgdesyan tried to discredit her account by eliciting an admission that she lied in an interview with Gayle King when she said that she hadn’t had a sexual relationship with Lanez. Mgdesyan also asked why Megan had initially said she had stepped on glass, which Megan addressed in her testimony. “This was the height of police brutality and George Floyd, and if I said this man just shot me, I didn’t know if they might shoot first and ask questions later,” she told the jury. “In the Black community, in my community,” she continued, “it’s not really acceptable to be cooperating with police officers.” Megan also testified that as a woman in her industry, “people have a hard time believing you anyway.”
The defense effort was not enough to sway a jury against Megan’s account of the night. As prosecutor Alexander Bott said during his closing remarks on Wednesday: “If you believe Megan, that’s enough.”
The decision also marks the end of a trial surrounded by online contention and, in some cases, the proliferation of false rumors about the case. On Thursday, just after the jury began deliberating, several prominent hip-hop outlets and bloggers sent out tweets claiming that a verdict had been reached finding Lanez not guilty on two charges, only to retract them after it quickly emerged that the jury was on lunch break. An NBC News report this week explored how a crop of gossip bloggers had shaped the tenor of social media discussion around the trial. “It’s been very clear, as I’ve seen entertainment and gossip spaces commenting on the case, that she has been set up as someone who is out for herself, lying, and problematic in all these ways,” Catherine Knight Steele, a University of Maryland communications professor, told the outlet. “This points to the way that mis- and disinformation, and misogynoir, is trafficked because of its profitability, even in the Black community. It’s profitable for these sites to traffic in the most vile stereotypes about Black women.”
The dynamic in some ways echoed Megan’s description of the attacks she said she has faced since accusing Lanez. “If I would have known that coming out and speaking my truth would come with people agreeing with me being shot,” she testified last week, “if I would have known, I would have started to lose my confidence.”
Lanez is scheduled to be sentenced on January 27. He could also be deported following his conviction.