Prosecutors allege that 'Puffy' Combs fired a shot
The trial of Sean "Puffy" Combs and two others opened on Monday (1/29) with a prosecutor promising that multiple witnesses would testify that the rap mogul fired a gun into the ceiling of a Manhattan club during a December 1999 shooting incident. But Combs' lawyer Ben Brafman accused "star-struck" prosecutors "playing fast and loose with the facts."
According to published reports, Assistant District Attorney Matthew Bogdanos told jurors in a New York City courtroom that the problems that led to the wounding of three people at Club New York began when Combs accidentally spilled someone else's drink. The scene deteriorated into a shoving match before rapper Jamal "Shyne" Barrow fired into the crowd in an effort to "kill the man who disrespected his boss," prosecutors alleged in their opening arguments.
As the scene escalated, Combs fled the club after firing a single shot, leaving his girlfriend--singer-actress Jennifer Lopez--and co-defendant and bodyguard Anthony "Wolf" Jones behind, prosecutors said.
"It isn't until Mr. Combs gets to [his chauffeur-driven SUV] that he realizes he's fled the club without Miss Lopez," Bogdanos said, according to a Court TV report.
During his opening arguments, Brafman denied that Combs ever had a gun. Brafman also took aim at a key prosecution witness, chauffeur Wardel Fenderson, who is expected to testify that Combs was carrying a gun at the club and that Combs offered the driver money to claim it was his.
The plan is, 'How do I, Wardel, capitalize on this case? How do I get a huge payday even though I don't deserve a nickel?'" Brafman said, according to the Associated Press.
Combs and co-defendant Anthony Jones are charged with illegal possession of a stolen gun that police said was found on the floor of the vehicle in which Combs and Jones fled the shooting. Combs is also accused of attempting to bribe a witness.
Barrow, a rapper who released his first album on Combs' Bad Boy Entertainment label last year, faces charges of attempted murder, assault, possession of a weapon and harassment.
The trial is scheduled to resume on Wednesday (1/31) as testimony continues from the prosecution's first witness.