© 2023 Western New York Public Broadcasting Association

140 Lower Terrace
Buffalo, NY 14202

Mailing Address:
Horizons Plaza P.O. Box 1263
Buffalo, NY 14240-1263

Buffalo Toronto Public Media | Phone 716-845-7000
WBFO Newsroom | Phone: 716-845-7040
Your NPR Station
Play Live Radio
Next Up:
0:00
0:00
Available On Air Stations

Megan Thee Stallion takes the stand in Tory Lanez trial, shares suicidal thoughts

Megan Thee Stallion, whose legal name is Megan Pete, makes her way from the Hall of Justice to the courthouse to testify in the trial of Rapper Tory Lanez for allegedly shooting her on Tuesday, Dec. 13 in Los Angeles, CA.
Jason Armond
/
Los Angeles Times via Getty Images
Megan Thee Stallion, whose legal name is Megan Pete, makes her way from the Hall of Justice to the courthouse to testify in the trial of Rapper Tory Lanez for allegedly shooting her on Tuesday, Dec. 13 in Los Angeles, CA.

Megan Thee Stallion took the stand as a witness for the prosecution during the assault trial of singer Tory Lanez in Los Angeles Superior Court today, speaking for the first time in explicit detail about the night Lanez allegedly shot the Houston rapper in the feet in 2020 and the event's residual effects on her career and life.

As the key witness for the prosecution, the Houston rapper, real name Megan Pete, described her account of night of July 12, 2020, saying on record that the assault was the result of an argument she had with Lanez, real name Daystar Peterson, and Kelsey Harris, her former best friend and assistant, while driving home from a Hollywood Hills pool party in the early morning hours.

Wearing a purple suit, red-bottom, black stilettos and a black bob hairstyle, Pete, 27, testified that the shooting and its aftermath have impacted her health, both physically and mentally. "I can't even be happy," she said, her voice breaking during her afternoon testimony. "I can't hold conversations with people for a long time. I don't feel like I want to be on this earth. I wish he would have just shot and killed me, if I knew I would have to go through this torture."

The Grammy winner recounted that she and Peterson had an intimate but not exclusive relationship in 2020, one that Harris did not know about at the time. Pete knew Harris had a "crush on" Tory, so she hid the relationship. (When asked specifically why she had not previously revealed the nature of her relationship with Peterson, Pete said she was embarrassed, "because it's disgusting at this point. How could I share my body with someone who could do this to me?")

The fight in the vehicle started when Peterson hinted at the relationship to Harris and then tried to pit the two women against each other, calling them "bitches and hoes" in the car.

Pete testified that, after exiting the vehicle for a second time on the drive home, Peterson shouted at her, "Dance, bitch," then fired five shots at her from the passenger side, striking her in the feet. "I felt shocked. I felt hurt. I wasn't sure if this was really happening. I looked at my feet, I saw the blood and I fell to the ground," the "WAP" star testified.

When expressly asked about changing her story to police the night of the shooting — from stepping in glass to allegedly being shot by Peterson — Pete gave context for her choice in the moment, starting with her distrust of the police.

"I don't feel safe in the car. I don't feel safe with the police," Pete said between tears as she described the aftermath of the incident, when responding officers had her, Peterson, Harris and Jaquan Smith, Peterson's bodyguard, step out of the vehicle they were stopped in.

Pete, who shared that she's grown up deeply suspicious of cops, said that wariness was further stoked by the 2020 climate, George Floyd's murder and subsequent Black Lives Matter protests: "In the Black community — in my community — it's not really acceptable to be cooperating with police officers."

Pete then spoke briefly about how "women aren't believed when they speak out." George Mgdesyan, Peterson's attorney, objected on the grounds that the comment was tangential to the case.

Beyond fear of the police and questions surrounding survivor credibility, Pete also shared the concern that implicating Peterson could negatively impact her career in hip-hop.

"This situation has only been worse for me and it has only made him more famous," Pete said during morning testimony. "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 ... This whole situation in the industry is like a big boy's club ... I'm telling on one of y'all friends, now you're all about to hate me."

Pete testified that she crawled into the driveway to the left of the SUV after being shot, but eventually got back into the car. In her testimony, she said that, as the group drove away, Peterson immediately told Harris and Pete that he would give them each $1 million if they didn't tell police and said he was on probation for a prior weapons offense. Throughout the trial, Peterson's defense has repeatedly said that Peterson was never on probation.

The afternoon cross examination reached a boiling point when Defense Attorney Mgdesyan implied in his questioning that Pete's career has taken off since this shooting, and even used scare quotes around the word "shot." Pete replied "why did you do this [gestures scare quote] I got shot."

While Pete was on the stand, Peterson, wearing a cream suit and white turtleneck, sat silently in the defense chair, taking notes sporadically and avoiding all eye contact with her.

Pete also shared new details around her contact with Peterson after the night, saying that he continued to contact her following the shooting took place to apologize. According to Pete, he texted her from an unknown number to say he was watching her during an Instagram Live and could see the "pain in my eyes." She said that she thought, "Why are you bothering me? Why are you being weird? You just shot me and now you are telling me you're watching me?"

Because social media has played a critical role in catalyzing public debate of this case, Pete's revelation that Peterson watched her on Instagram is especially striking.

With every development of this case, many media personalities and outlets, specifically gossip blogs, have shared unsubstantiated information that's caused debate on social media about the validity of both Pete and Peterson's versions of events. That online public debate materialized in real life as supporters of both artists flocked outside of the courthouse for testimony.

Peterson is facing three felony charges; assault with a semi-automatic firearm, possession of a concealed, unregistered firearm, negligent discharge of a firearm. If convicted, Peterson faces up to 22 years in prison and/or possible deportation back to Canada.

Kelsey Harris is set to be called to the witness stand by the prosecution on Wednesday, December 14, 2022.


If you or someone you know may be considering suicide or is in crisis, call or text 988 to reach the Suicide & Crisis Lifeline. For suicide prevention resources from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, click here.

Copyright 2022 NPR. To see more, visit https://www.npr.org.

Gabby Bulgarelli
Sidney Madden is a reporter and editor for NPR Music. As someone who always gravitated towards the artforms of music, prose and dance to communicate, Madden entered the world of music journalism as a means to authentically marry her passions and platform marginalized voices who do the same.
Sam Leeds