The prosecution’s key witness in the Sean “Puffy” Combs trial went on the stand today and gave damaging testimony on both the weapons possession and bribery charges against the rap mogul. Driver Wardell Fenderson, who took the wheel of Combs’ Lincoln Navigator, said that Combs armed himself prior to entering Club New York December 27th, 1999, and later gave him a diamond pinkie ring as collateral to take the fall for the gun.
Fenderson testified today that much to his surprise, while Combs was in the back seat of the Lincoln Navigator, he tucked a black handgun into the waistband of his pants. “We made eye contact, but nothing was said,” Fenderson testified, saying that as he looked over his shoulder, he noticed Combs had to adjust his shirt and pants to position the gun. “And then he just went on about his business.” Fenderson claimed he was quite certain of what he saw. “It couldn’t have been his cell phone or a wallet. It was a gun.”
After Combs, his then-girlfriend Jennifer Lopez and bodyguard Anthony “Wolf” Jones left the club, fleeing the shootings, Fenderson said that Combs and Lopez were brought to the vehicle separately by bodyguards. Fenderson then testified that Combs instructed him to flee police, which caused him to drive on the sidewalk, around a police barricade and run eleven red lights. “It was like something out of a movie,” he said. “A panic situation.”
Fenderson also gave damaging testimony against Jamal “Shyne” Barrow, saying he overheard Lopez say, “Shyne busted off! Shyne busted off in the air!”, which the driver interpreted to mean that Barrow had fired a weapon.
After the police pulled over the vehicle and arrested Combs and his entourage, Fenderson said that Combs tried to pressure him into saying that the gun was his. “I’m Puff Daddy, I can’t take this gun,” Fenderson claimed Combs told him. While in the holding cell at the Midtown South Precinct, Fenderson said that Combs offered him $50,000 to take the fall, giving him a ring that he pulled off his left hand as collateral.
The trial resumes Friday.