LOS ANGELES — Megan Thee Stallion, the Grammy-winning rapper, took the stand on Tuesday during the assault trial against the rapper Tory Lanez, testifying that she still had nerve damage after he shot her in the feet in the wake of an argument two years ago.
The case has played out on social media and in music released by both rappers. On an album released in 2020, more than two months after the encounter, Mr. Lanez rebutted Megan Thee Stallion’s account; she has defended herself on Instagram, in interviews and with her own defiant track.
Mr. Lanez, whose real name is Daystar Peterson, could face nearly 23 years of prison if convicted. He faces charges of assault with a semiautomatic handgun; of carrying a loaded, unregistered firearm in a vehicle; and of discharging a firearm with gross negligence.
Prosecutors say that in July 2020, in the early morning hours after a party in Los Angeles, Mr. Lanez lashed out at Megan Thee Stallion after she had criticized his rap abilities, firing toward her feet as she walked away from the vehicle they had both been riding in. The defense has disputed that Mr. Lanez fired the shots, suggesting it could have been another woman who they claim was upset that the two rappers had been intimate with each other.
On Tuesday, Megan Thee Stallion largely reiterated what she had told reporters and recounted on social media about the encounter, testifying that she had initially misrepresented the events of that night to the police because tensions were high after the murder of George Floyd and she was afraid of how they would respond.
“I didn’t want to talk to the officers because I didn’t want to be a snitch,” she testified.
Megan Thee Stallion also testified about how the fallout from the encounter has made her depressed and hindered her career. She said that she was a private person who spoke out to defend her name, and that she had been the target of abusive comments on social media.
“Because Tory has come out and told so many lies about me, and making this all a sex scandal, people don’t want to touch me,” she said. “It feels like I’m a sick bird.”
The shooting occurred just as Megan Thee Stallion’s fame was growing. Months earlier, her collaboration with Beyoncé on a remix of “Savage” became her first No. 1 Billboard hit. That year, the blockbuster song “WAP” — a viral collaboration with Cardi B — turned her into an even bigger star.
Here’s what to know about the case.
What happened after the shooting?
Initially, the details around what happened that night were hazy.
Days after the shooting, Megan Thee Stallion — who was born Megan Pete — posted on her Instagram account that she had “suffered gunshot wounds” that required surgery but did not provide more details. But amid surging gossip and speculation, she later said the shooter was Mr. Lanez, who had been arrested and charged with concealing a firearm in the vehicle.
Mr. Lanez addressed the situation in rap lyrics that suggested a conflicting account, including, “We both know what happened that night and what I did/But it ain’t what they sayin’.”
In October 2020, the Los Angeles County District Attorney’s Office charged Mr. Lanez with assault.
What has Megan Thee Stallion said?
In an interview with CBS’s Gayle King this year, Megan Thee Stallion said that she and a friend had been driving with Mr. Lanez after a party at the home of Kylie Jenner, the beauty mogul, when an argument broke out in the S.U.V.
After she exited the vehicle, she said, Mr. Lanez shouted “Dance!” and a sexist slur before shooting at her. He then apologized and offered her and the friend, Kelsey Harris, a million dollars for them to keep quiet about what had happened.
When the police arrived, she said, she told officers that her foot injuries had been caused when she stepped on glass.
She later addressed her initial decision to withhold information from the police in her song “Shots Fired,” rapping, “If it weren’t for me/Same week, you would have been indicted.”
Megan Thee Stallion, 27, has been outspoken about the shooting and what she sees as the broader issues at play, writing in a guest essay in The New York Times that the “skepticism and judgment” that followed her allegations were emblematic of how Black women were “disrespected and disregarded in so many areas of life.”
Outside the courthouse on Tuesday, several fans of the rapper voiced their support with a banner that read, “We stand with Megan.”
What has Tory Lanez said?
Mr. Lanez, 30, who has pleaded not guilty to all charges, has not given interviews about his specific account of that night. But at the start of the trial, his lawyer, George Mgdesyan, said the argument in the car had involved Ms. Harris, a friend of Megan Thee Stallion’s; he said Ms. Harris was angry when she learned that Megan Thee Stallion had been intimate with Mr. Lanez, Rolling Stone reported.
On the 2020 album on which he addressed the shooting, which was called “Daystar,” Mr. Lanez rapped, “If you got shot from behind, how can you identify me?”
It is unclear whether Mr. Lanez plans to take the stand.
What evidence is at the center of the case?
Prosecutors have homed in on a text message that they say Ms. Harris sent to Mr. Lanez’s bodyguard that night, writing, “Help” and “Tory shot Meg.” They are also expected to present a text message in which Mr. Lanez apologizes to Megan Thee Stallion after the shooting. The defense has countered that Mr. Lanez did not directly admit to carrying out the shooting, according to The Los Angeles Times.
Mr. Mgdesyan also suggested that there was a lack of physical evidence to prove the case against Mr. Lanez beyond a reasonable doubt. He told jurors, The Los Angeles Times reported, that Mr. Lanez’s DNA had not been found on the gun.