LOS ANGELES — A judge has sentenced rapper Tory Lanez to 10 years in prison for shooting and injuring hip-hop superstar Megan Thee Stallion on Tuesday.
Los Angeles Superior Court Judge David Herriford sentenced Lanez, 31, who was convicted in December of three counts: assault with a semi-automatic firearm; possession of a loaded, unlicensed firearm in a vehicle and discharging a firearm by gross negligence.
The punishment ends a dramatic case that has created a cultural firestorm in the hip-hop community, churning out issues such as Black victims’ reluctance to speak to the police, gender politics in hip-hop, online toxicity, protecting Black women. Consequences of misogyny, a particular type of misogyny experienced by black women.
Herriford said it was “difficult to reconcile” the kind, benevolent person and good father that many identified with Lanez during the criminal trial with the person who fired a gun at Megan.
“Sometimes good people do bad things,” said Herriford. “Actions have consequences and there is no winner in this case.”
Megan said that Lanez fired a gun from the back of her feet and yelled at her to dance, as she drove away from an SUV they were getting after leaving a pool party at Kylie Jenner’s home in Hollywood Hills in July 2020. He had to have surgery to remove the bullet fragments.
“I haven’t had a single day of peace since I was brutally shot by the accused,” Megan said in a statement read by the prosecutor on Monday. “I’m slowly but surely recovering and coming back, but I’ll never be the same again.”
Lanez begged Herriford for mercy just before the judge handed down his sentence. Lanez requested either probation or a minimum prison sentence.
“If only I could undo and change the storyline that night,” Lanez continued. “The victim was my friend. The victim is someone I still care about to this day.”
“I take full responsibility for everything I did wrong that night,” he added.
Lanez looked dazed as the sentence was read, but made no vocal response. His family and fans in the courtroom also remained silent after the verdict.
The rapper has been given nearly 10 months of credit for the time he has served since his December conviction.
“I hope Miss Pete’s courage gives hope to those who are feeling helpless,” Los Angeles District Attorney George Gascón said at a press conference after Megan, whose legal name is Megan Pete, was handed down the sentence.
Before the sentencing, Lanez’s father, Sonstar Peterson, couldn’t hold back the tears as he described how the rapper’s mother died when he was 11 years old, just days after the rapper’s mother first showed symptoms of a rare blood disorder that could lead to his death.
“I don’t think anyone can get past that,” he said of their youngest child, whose legal name is Daystar Peterson. “But his music was his debut.”
Lanez began releasing mixtapes in 2009 and has seen a steady rise in popularity and has moved on to major label albums. The last two entered the top 10 on the Billboard charts.
Megan Thee Stallion, now 28, was already a huge rising star at the time of filming and her reputation has since grown. Born Megan Pete, she won a Grammy for best new artist in 2021 and became the #1 single with Beyoncé’s “Savage” and a guest appearance on Cardi B’s “WAP”.
The elder Peterson, a Christian pastor, was one of the few to make statements about Lanez’s character and charity work – just as the mother of her younger son, who spoke in court about Lanez’s qualities as a father. Dozens of people wrote to Herriford, including rapper Iggy Azalea, asking the judge to impose a “transformative, not life-destroying” sentence.
Herriford said Lanez’s son, who is about 6 years old, also sent a handwritten letter, but the judge offered no further explanation.
Lanez’s family and supporters filled the courtroom; During the trial, they claimed that his prosecution was unfairly opened by Megan and the powerful names of the music world. After the verdict was read in December, Lanez’s father denounced the “abominable system” that had led to his son’s conviction; On Monday, Sonstar Peterson apologized to Herriford for the outburst.
Lanez has been jailed since his conviction. A pastor from the Los Angeles County jail said in court on Monday that Lanez led daily prayer groups that eased tensions in the protective custody unit where he was held.
Herriford denied Lanez’s defense attorneys’ request for a new hearing on May 9. Such motions immediately after a conviction are common and rarely successful. Lanez’s lawyers argued that there was insufficient evidence to convict him and that some evidence presented to jurors should not be allowed.
Lawyers argued that Megan’s statement that Lanez urged her not to go to the police because she was on parole and was going to get in serious trouble was both untrue and considered inappropriate prior misconduct. And they said the DNA evidence prosecutors used to claim Lanez was the possible hitman fell far short of industry standards.
Lanez’s lawyers had said in a sentencing note that he needed to be released from prison only to receive probation and enter a home substance abuse program. They plan to appeal the conviction.
Herriford discovered early on Monday that Megan was a particularly vulnerable victim when she was shot, but that Lanez wasn’t particularly cruel or emotionless when shooting at her.
“Physically, he has permanent scarring,” Assistant District Attorney Alexander Bott said in court. “And he will definitely have an emotional scar for the rest of his life.”