Her voice cracking with emotion, Megan Thee Stallion looked straight ahead and held her composure Tuesday as she told jurors that Tory Lanez shouted, “Dance, bitch!” before shooting her in both feet during a roadside assault in July 2020.
Dressed in a bright purple suit, The “Savage” rapper took the witness stand around 11:15 a.m. and immediately identified Lanez in the Los Angeles courtroom.
“Are you nervous?” Los Angeles Deputy District Attorney Kathy Ta asked the Grammy winner.
“I just don’t feel good. I can’t believe I have to come up here and do this,” Megan replied.
Over more than three hours of harrowing testimony, Megan described her “terrified” reaction to the shooting in the predawn hours of July 12, 2020, and the fear and confusion that followed. She admitted she lied to investigators and media outlets when she previously denied having been “intimate” with Lanez. She explained to jurors that the non-exclusive relationship left her feeling “embarrassed,” and ultimately, she considered it irrelevant to the actual shooting that landed her a hospital.
“There is not a day that goes by where somebody is not calling me a liar or is not shaming me for being a grown woman and having sex. This whole story has not been about the shooting, it’s only been about who is Tory having sex with,” she testified.
“I don’t understand why that matters,” she said, shutting down defense suggestions that it was her former best-friend Kelsey Harris who shot her in a jealous rage. Megan was adamant Lanez was the triggerman.
“Tory came out and told so many different lies, about me not being shot, about him not being the shooter, and making this all about a sex scandal,” she testified. The ensuing ordeal led to a barrage of threats and harassment online, she said, and left her feeling like a “sick bird” that other members of her industry sought to avoid.
“Because I was shot, I’ve been turned into some kind of villain, and he’s the victim. This has messed up my whole life,” she said, adding that she often gets “depressed” about the way she’s “being shamed” online.
At her lowest she thought, “I wish he would have just shot and killed me (rather than) have to go through this torture,” Megan told the jury.
In her sworn account of the hours leading up to the shooting, Megan claimed Lanez, whose real name is Daystar Peterson, met her at a pool party at Kylie Jenner’s house and at first refused to join her when she announced she was ready to go home. She said when he finally agreed to leave so she and Harris could hitch a ride with his driver, he “had an attitude.”
“We finally all got in the car and left,” she said, naming Peterson, Peterson’s driver Jauquan Smith, and Harris as the passengers in the Cadillac Escalade.
“He had an attitude because he wasn’t ready to leave the party,” she testified, saying she was in the front seat while Harris and Peterson sat in the back. Almost immediately, Peterson tried to stir up controversy between the two women, she said.
“Tory says, ‘You need to stop lying to your friend.’ He had an attitude, and for whatever reason, he said, ‘You need to stop lying to your friend,’” Megan recalled. She said Peterson was referring to their sexual history together, which Harris didn’t know about at the time.
“Because I knew Kelsey had a crush on Tory, I didn’t want to hurt her feelings, and I didn’t want her to know that I had dealt with him in any kind of way. So he knew I didn’t want her to know that. I didn’t want anybody to know,” she testified. “Now Kelsey got an attitude because he was implying we were hiding something from her.”
Megan, 27, said Peterson started calling both women “bitches” and “hoes,” so she asked to be let out of the car on Sunset Boulevard.
“I realize, oh my god, I’m literally at the peak of being so famous right now, and I’m in a thong (bikini), and I look crazy, and if anybody sees me walking down the street like this, it’s going to be bad for me,” she testified.
Megan said she got back in the vehicle, where Peterson and Harris were screaming at each other at the “top of their lungs.” After Smith turned down a side street and they approached Megan’s house, she asked to get out of the car again. She said Peterson had disparaged her rap career, so she disparaged his in return, causing him to become even angrier.
“Tory was basically telling me I wasn’t shit, 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. He kept yelling and cursing,” she said.
“I start walking away from the car, and I can hear Tory say, ‘Dance, bitch!’ I don’t have to turn all the way around. I didn’t have to use my feet to turn around,” she testified, displaying for the jury how she turned her head without turning her entire body. “I literally turned like this, and I could see him with the gun.”
Peterson’s lawyer George Mgdesyan objected at this point, but the judge let the answer remain on the record. (Megan’s main injury was near the back of her left foot, leading the defense to claim she was facing away from the shooter when the gunfire erupted and didn’t have a good vantage point to identify who was holding the semiautomatic 9mm handgun.)
Megan repeated that she saw “Tory with the gun” and then “froze.”
“I’m in shock. I’m scared. I hear a gun going off. I couldn’t believe he was shooting at me,” she testified. “He was holding the gun, pointing it at me.”
She said Peterson appeared taller than normal, leading her to believe he was standing on something, firing the gun over one of the passenger-side doors. “I felt hurt, but I wasn’t sure if this was actually happening. I looked down at my feet, and I see all the blood,” she continued.
Megan said she dropped to the ground and started crawling to a nearby driveway. “Now everybody’s screaming. He looked shocked. Kelsey looked shocked.”
Megan said everything started to get “blurry” after that, but she recalled Peterson “apologizing” in the car when they heard the police sirens.
“He’s saying, ‘Please don’t say anything. I’ll give y’all a million dollars. I can’t go to jail. I already got caught with a gun before,’” she testified.
Soon after that, Megan said she lied to the police and told them that she stepped on glass. Asked why she didn’t tell the truth, Megan said her reasoning was two-fold.
“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 testified. Beyond that, “In the Black community, in my community, it’s not really acceptable to be cooperating with police officers.”
She also said, “As a woman” in the music industry, “people have a hard time believing you anyway.”
Peterson, 30, listened quietly throughout Megan’s testimony, taking copious notes. Seated behind him in the gallery was his 6-year-old son, dressed in a suit.
The “Luv” singer 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.
In opening statements Monday, prosecutors revealed for the first time that Harris is expected to corroborate much of Megan’s testimony when she’s called the stand later this week.
“Kelsey will tell you that she just saw her close friend get shot by the defendant,” Los Angeles County Deputy District Attorney Alexander Bott previously told jurors, adding that Harris rushed to Megan’s side as she lay bleeding in a random driveway. Bott said Harris will testify she freaked out when Lanez approached the two women after he fired five shots.
“Kelsey, she’ll tell you she didn’t know if the defendant still had this gun. She didn’t know what the defendant was capable of, if he was going to continue his assault. Her defensive instincts kicked into gear, and she approached the defendant. She’ll tell you the defendant physically assaulted her at that point. He pulled her by her hair, and he either punched her or slapped her.”
According to Bott, Harris also sent three text messages to Megan’s bodyguard Justin Edison in the five minutes following the shooting.
“Help,” Harris texted Edison at 4:27 a.m. on July 12, 2020, according to a visual of the text chain shown on a screen in the courtroom. “Tory Shot Meg,” the next line read. “911,” the third bubble read.
In his dueling opening statement, defense lawyer Mgdesyan urged jurors to keep an “open mind.” He said no one beyond Megan reported hearing the “Dance, bitch” line, and he said a neighbor who purportedly witnessed some of the incident from a nearby balcony reported seeing a muzzle flash closest to the non-victim female. (Prosecutors have said they won’t be calling the neighbor because he gave conflicting statements, including saying at one point that he was woken up by the sound of gunshots.)
On Monday, Mgdesyan said the alcohol-fueled fight started when Megan purportedly became “jealous” that Peterson was spending time with Jenner in the pool and didn’t want to leave her house. He said Kris Jenner’s boyfriend Corey Gamble was a witness to some of the party and would be called to testify.
Mgdesyan told jurors Harris became enraged when Peterson revealed he had been intimate with Megan. In statements to the court last week, Mgdesyan said the defense plans to present evidence Harris could have been the one to discharge the gun. Prosecutors sought to bar Mgdesyan from saying Harris was the shooter.
In his opening statement, Mgdesyan told jurors that after former LAPD lead investigator Det. Ryan Stogner learned Harris and Peterson both tested positive for gunshot residue, he failed to test the firearm for Harris’ DNA or fingerprints. “Detective Stogner didn’t think it was important,” the lawyer said. “We’ll never know” what such testing would have shown “because the detective on this case refused to do it,” he said
Bott, meanwhile, said Peterson made a recorded jail call to Harris that was tantamount to a confession. He said Peterson also tried to smooth things over with Megan in a text message that read, “I know u prolly never gone talk to me again, but I genuinely want u to know I’m sorry from the bottom of my heart. And I was just too drunk. None the less, shit should have never happened, and I can’t change what did. I just feel horrible cuz I genuinely just got too drunk.”
Bott said that one day later, at about 3:30 p.m., Edison visited Peterson’s residence to retrieve some of Megan’s belongings. He said the bodyguard will testify that Peterson essentially confessed he was the shooter.
“Justin will tell you that the defendant admitted much of what he admitted in the call and the text, that he was the triggerman that night, that he did the shooting. But he said he was just shooting in the air, and shooting at the ground. But importantly, he told Justin he was the person who fired the gun,” Bott said.
Speaking to Rolling Stone for a cover story earlier this year, Megan said she was friends with Peterson at the time of the shooting, but they were not an official couple.
“That man was never my ex… never my man,” she said. Still, she believed at the time of the shooting that she shared “a real connection” with Peterson because they had bonded over losing their mothers.
“I thought he knew me. And I never would’ve thought he would’ve shot at me at all,” she said.
“I never put my hands on this man,” she said. “I never did anything to him. There was an argument. People argue every day. Friends argue every day.”
She questioned why Peterson has been “dragging it out like this.”
“Have you hated me this much the whole time and I didn’t see it?’” she said in her interview with Conteh. “I want him to go to jail,” she added. “I want him to go under the jail.”
© 2023 PMC. All rights reserved.