According to court records acquired by Rolling Stone, the man at the core of A$AP Rocky’s criminal case has engaged former Johnny Depp attorney Camille Vasquez and is suing the rapper and his defense counsel for slander.
A$AP Rocky, whose real name is RakimMayers, pleaded not guilty in August 2022 to two counts of using a semiautomatic firearm during an altercation in downtown Hollywood in November 2021 in which Mayers allegedly shot and injured his longtime friend and former A$AP Mob member Terell Ephron, a.k.a. A$AP Relli.
Attorney Joe Tacopina, who has represented former President Trump in his disputes with Stormy Daniels and E. Jean Carroll, has depicted Ephron as a bitter and resentful former partner in his defense of Mayers.
In September, Tacopina alleged in remarks to several media publications, including Rolling Stone, that Ephron was extorting Mayers and “trying to get money from Rocky.”
These comments are described in Ephron’s lawsuit against Mayers and Tacopina. According to Rolling Stone, Ephron hired Vasquez and her company, Brown Rudnick, last month.
According to Ephron’s lawyers, Mayers “brandished, aimed, and fired multiple shots from a semiautomatic firearm” at Ephron, and a “large portion of the incident, and in particular, the shooting, was captured on video.”
Following Ephron’s legal complaint against Mayers last year, Vasquez and her team believe Tacopina embarked on a publicity campaign to “impugn and malign” Ephron, listing ten occasions when they claimed Tacopina made false remarks to the press via Mayers.
Tacopina tells Rolling Stone that he “welcomes this litigation.” “Especially before the criminal case is resolved.” “It will expose their client’s fraud,” he claims.
“It’s unfortunate that these lawyers are unaware of the facts of this case or their client’s actions, but I will gladly educate them.” Mayers’ representative did not immediately reply to a request for comment.
Vasquez’s employment indicates that Ephron is preparing for a battle – Vasquez defended Depp in his high-profile defamation lawsuit against his ex-wife Amber Heard last year.
Even though both sides were deemed to have defamed the other, Depp emerged victorious in the court of public opinion. (One of Heard’s defamation allegations against Depp was based on allegedly defamatory remarks made by Depp’s lawyer to the press.)
Tacopina has worked with several high-profile clients, including Meek Mill and Alex Rodriguez, and has achieved tough victories and nasty setbacks. “He irritates others with his antics,” one insider said of his portrayal of the former president in April, according to Rolling Stone.
“However, he appears to be a blunt object that Donald Trump desires.”
“When anonymous sources criticize others, it shows jealousy and cowardice.” Anyone who looks at my track record of trial success and the outcomes I’ve accomplished for my clients can’t honestly question my work or my IQ,” Tacopina disputed in a statement to Rolling Stone.
According to the 33-page lawsuit, Tacopina made many defamatory comments to Rolling Stone, TMZ, and on a radio program in September, which were subsequently reproduced by numerous other news sites.
In court records, Vasquez quotes Tacopina as saying to Rolling Stone that Mayers “didn’t shoot [Ephron] by any stretch,” and that the purported shooting was a “false narrative” and a money-making scam.
Ephron’s lawyers claim that as a result of Tacopina’s comments, he has “suffered damage to his reputation and personal brand; goodwill in the community as a member of A$AP Mob” and “potentially lost future income” as a result of “negative publicity” from Tacopina’s comments. Ephron is suing for punitive or exemplary damages and legal expenses.
Following several delays in his criminal case, the defamation claim comes two months before Mayers’ planned preliminary hearing on November 8. According to a Los Angeles County District Attorney’s Office spokeswoman, this is the last foreseeable delay in taking the case to a potential trial.
Despite frequent public appearances with his partner Rihanna, with whom he is said to have recently welcomed their second child, Mayers has not personally addressed the allegations. Mayers faces up to nine years in prison if convicted. He is presently out on bail for $550,000.
Mayers was detained in April 2022 after he landed at LAX following a holiday in Barbados with Rihanna. Police were then seen searching his Los Angeles house for the pistol used in the suspected crime.
While prosecutors have not provided specifics concerning the events of November 6, 2021, Mayers and Ephron have provided conflicting narratives. Last August, Ephron sued Mayers for assault, violence, carelessness, and mental distress, claiming he was “lured” to a secluded back alley before being shot.
According to court documents, Ephron was there to discuss a disagreement between the two men. Still, during the heated argument, Mayers allegedly brandished a handgun “without provocation, warning, or any justification” and “intentionally fired multiple shots” at Ephron, who was hit by bullet fragments in his hand.
On the other hand, Mayers’ team has maintained the rapper’s innocence, claiming that Ephron was the aggressor in the situation. “He tried to attack Rocky, and another guy got involved, and he punched another guy in the face and knocked his teeth out, and now he’s a victim, according to him.”