In a damaging day for Tory Lanez’s defense, jurors heard audio Friday from the lengthy interview that Megan Thee Stallion’s former friend Kelsey Harris gave to prosecutors in September where she vividly recalled Lanez firing five shots, leaving Megan wounded on the ground.
The recording was played at Lanez’s felony assault trial in Los Angeles after Harris took the witness stand this week and disavowed key aspects of the September statement and flat-out denied she saw Lanez pull the trigger.
Harris, also known as Kelsey Nicole, was heard on the recording calmly corroborating Megan’s prior testimony that Lanez, whose legal name is Daystar Peterson, brandished a weapon and pointed it at the “Sweetest Pie” rapper during a drunken roadside dispute in the predawn hours of July 12, 2020.
Jurors listened with rapt attention to the Sept. 14, 2022 interview, following along with a transcript. In the audio, Harris recalled leaving a pool party at Kylie Jenner’s house in a Cadillac Escalade with Megan, Peterson and a driver identified as Jauquan Smith shortly before the incident.
Speaking steadily with few interruptions from prosecutors during most of the 88-minute interview, Harris, 27, said a fight broke out inside the SUV and that she stepped in to defend Megan when Peterson started disrespecting her.
“I said, ‘You’re not going to talk to my friend like that,’” Harris recalled on the recording. “Honestly when I argue, I can say things that are hurtful too.”
She said Peterson then told her he was from Canada, “insinuating” Canadians “were gangsters.”
“He said, ‘My n—-, I’ll shoot you,’” Harris told prosecutors. “He said that to me, and he reached like he was going to grab something, reached toward the middle console, but he never pulled anything.” She said Peterson never opened the console.
“I was like, ‘Okay, if you shoot me, I guess it’s my time to go. If you shoot me, just know I have people that will ride behind me, my support,’” she responded, according to her interview.
Harris told prosecutors Megan then got of the SUV, returned a short time later, and that the fighting resumed.
“At this point they’re arguing about each other’s artistry. She’s telling him, ‘You’re only this and that because you’re on a remix with Jack Harlow,’” Harris told prosecutors. “They were just hitting each other over their careers.”
Harris said Peterson then ordered Smith to stop the vehicle because he wanted the women out. “This is my car,” he purportedly said, according to Harris.
Smith pulled over, and Megan “jumps out of her seat” first, Harris said.
“I get out of my side and no sooner do you know, you start hearing gunshots going off. I looked up maybe about the second or third gunshot. You see Tory, he’s now in the front seat. I guess he must have jumped over in a smooth transition, and he’s leaning over the door,” she said, saying the door was open at this point.
“He’s shooting over the top of the door,” Harris told prosecutors. “(He’s) leaning over the front passenger door, and he was shooting the gun.”
Harris described her own position as being outside the car but still behind her passenger door, in very close proximity to the gunfire.
“(Megan) was walking away when this happened, but by the third or fourth shot, she was facing towards us, and I would describe it as like a deer in headlights (look),” Harris said.
“The way Tory was angling the gun, it wasn’t like straight, it was like, down, definitely in her direction,” she said. Harris told prosecutors she didn’t hear Peterson say anything.
Peterson listened to the recording while seated at the defense table. The “Luv” rapper has pleaded not guilty to three felony charges in the high-profile case: assault with a firearm causing great bodily injury; concealing a loaded, unregistered firearm in a vehicle; and the recently added count of discharging a firearm with gross negligence.
If convicted as charged, the Alone at Prom rapper is facing the possibility of 22 years and eight months in prison and subsequent deportation since he’s a citizen of Canada.
Los Angeles County Superior Court Judge David Herriford ruled late Thursday that he would allow jurors to hear the full recording after he initially excluded it. Prosecutors played a small portion of it Wednesday, but Herriford appeared to shut it down during a sidebar. Harris repeatedly said she remembered making her September statement but stated she hadn’t been truthful.
Herriford changed his mind Thursday and allowed the recording to come in after prosecutors said Peterson’s defense lawyer had “opened the door” by “impugning” the prosecution’s “integrity” during his cross-examination of Harris. The lawyer, George Mgdesyan, had asked Harris whether prosecutors misled her into thinking she wouldn’t have to testify at trial if she told them what they “wanted to hear.”
In his opening statement, Mgdesyan introduced the theory that Harris could have been the shooter, but investigators never tested the gun for her DNA.
Though she refused to implicate Peterson during her combative turn on the witness stand Wednesday and Thursday, Harris called the defense theory that she pulled the trigger “ridiculous.” She also vehemently denied taking an “hush money” from Peterson during both her September interview with prosecutors and her live testimony.
In the recording played Friday, Harris told prosecutors that Peterson assaulted seconds after the shooting when she “went into defense mode” and stepped in front of Peterson to block his path to Megan bleeding in a driveway.
“My adrenaline was so high. I don’t know if he was hitting me with a closed first of slapping me, it was just a physical altercation,” she said, adding that Smith picked her up and moved her, allowing Peterson to make his way to Megan.
Harris said she jumped into the driver’s seat of the SUV and “jerked” the vehicle to “cause a distraction.”
“It worked,” she said. “It did exactly what I wanted it to. It got Tory away from Megan. … He got to me really quick and started pulling me by my hair. He was pulling me by my hair really hard.”
Harris said she wasn’t in fear for her life when the shooting happened, but “then I became afraid for my life when he started pulling my hair really, really hard. …He was pulling my neck and my hair.”
She said the “tug of war” broke a necklace she was wearing and caused her fake nails to break off. She said Peterson finally snapped out of when she said, “Tory, what are we doing?”
Harris spoke largely uninterrupted during the recorded interview, describing the alleged events with lots. of detail in chronological order, a marked departure from her live courtroom testimony, where she repeatedly said she couldn’t remember what happened.
Harris also broke down crying at points but told prosecutors she was eager to tell her side of the story because she felt like Megan abandoned her after the shooting, declining to clear her name in statements on social media.
“I have nothing to hide,” Harris told prosecutors. “My purpose in speaking my truth is that I just want to free myself from this.”
After playing the recording, prosecutors called a pair of LAPD criminologists to the witness stand Friday. One testified that the four bullet casings recovered at the scene of the shooting were matched to the 9mm semiautomatic handgun recovered from the floor of the Escalade where Peterson had been seated. The other criminologist told jurors that DNA testing on the gun was inconclusive as the Peterson, but that Peterson’s DNA was not detected on the gun’s magazine.
The defense then called its own DNA expert out of order Friday afternoon. He testified that he agreed with the findings of the LAPD testing but added that while Peterson couldn’t be ruled out as having contributed to the mix of DNA found on the gun, he would have expected a clear, conclusive result if Peterson actually fired the weapon five times. The defense expert, Marc Scott Taylor from Technical Associates, also said the mix of DNA on the gun included a profile for an unidentified woman.