Sean "Puffy" Combs took the stand today in his own defense in the most anticipated moment of his weapons possession and bribery trial, testifying that he wasn't carrying a gun and never offered a $50,000 bribe to driver Wardel Fenderson to take the fall for the weapon found inside his Lincoln Navigator. Instead, Combs told the jury that he thought the bullets shot in Club New York on December 27th, 1999, were intended for him.
"I heard gunfire, I heard gunshots, I thought I was being shot at," Combs said. "I put my hands up and proceeded to go down. I felt other bodies on top of me . . . Everybody started falling all over each other." Combs added that he fled the melee at Club New York because he was "just trying to get away from danger."
In sharp contrast to previous witness testimony, Combs also denied participating in the aggressive shouting match that club patrons said they witnessed between Combs and Matthew "Scar" Allen prior to the shootout. Calm and soft-spoken, Combs denied any involvement in the altercation, other than becoming aware of it just before shots rang out. He also denied being in the Lincoln Navigator prior to entering Club New York, contradicting testimony from Fenderson. "Absolutely not" was Combs answer to a wide range of questions, including whether he had a gun, whether he had asked the driver to show him how to use the car's hidden compartments, whether he knew there was a gun in the car and whether he tried to bribe the Fenderson to claim ownership of the gun. Instead, he said he only asked whose gun it was once it was discovered.
Assistant District Attorney Matthew Bogdanos began an intense, detail-oriented cross-examination at noon. In attacking Combs' credibility, he asked New York Post photographer and retired police detective Gary Miller to stand up (he was in the court's audience). Bogdanos asked Combs if he recognized Miller; Combs said, "No." Bogdanos then brought up Combs' previous altercation with Miller, after which Combs had plead guilty to criminal mischief and ordered to pay a fine. According to Bogdanos' line of questioning, Miller had been forced to hand over the film he used to take pictures of Combs' car when Combs threatened him by revealing a butt of a gun. Combs testified that he hadn't forced Miller to hand over the film, that Miller had done so willingly and that he had even said please. "Are you telling this jury that you just asked him, 'Please, give me your film'? Is that what you're saying?" Bogdanos asked Combs, before presenting other court documents that showed otherwise. Outside the courtroom, Miller told reporters, "I think [Combs] is a liar."
Combs testimony concluded his defense's presentation. Though Bogdanos is scheduled to resume his cross-examination of Combs on Friday, the defense has rested their case for Combs and co-defendant Anthony "Wolf" Jones.
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