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Megan Thee Stallion Seemed ‘Like A Deer in Headlights’ When Tory Lanez Opened Fire, Her Friend Told Prosecutors in Taped Interview

Tory Lanez in a burgundy suit walking with his son

Hand in hand with his five-year-old son, rapper Tory Lanez leaves the main criminal court in downtown Los Angeles on Thursday, Dec. 15, 2022. (Photo by Meghann M. Cuniff/Law&Crime)

In a recorded interview played for jurors, a former friend of Megan Thee Stallion clearly identified rapper Tory Lanez as the gunman who fired five rounds at the hip-hop superstar in July 2020.

That friend Kelsey Nicole Harris told prosecutors in an interview recorded months earlier that she turned at the sound of the second or third of five gunshots — and saw Lanez on the right front passenger side of the Escalade that Megan had exited, “shooting over the door.” Harris gave this statement to prosecutors in person, with her husband, Darien Smith at her side, recounting in detail the July 12, 2020, shooting that left Megan with bullet fragments in her feet. Megan testified that the pain in her heels  continues to persist.

“I can’t tell you guys where Tory pulled the gun from,” Harris said, but she confirmed that he was firing it toward Megan after he’d ordered his driver to stop because he wanted them both out and she exited the Escalade in her swimsuit.

Harris said she exited, too, and “no sooner do you know, you start hearing gunshots going off.”

“Definitely in her direction,” Harris said. “Yeah, definitely in her direction.”

She said Megan was walking with her back to Lanez when he started shooting, but by the third or fourth shot, she’d turned around “and I would describe it as like a deer in headlights.”

“You’re Not Going to Talk to My Friend Like That”

Jurors heard the entirety of the approximately 90-minute interview on Friday, after Jody Little, a senior investigator with the district attorney’s office, vouched for its authenticity. She attended the interview with Deputy District Attorneys Alexander Bott and Kathy Ta. The latter prosecutor described Harris’ demeanor throughout as “very comfortable” and “friendly, cordial.” She also said Smith was “very supportive, very friendly as well. Cordial, professional.”

That’s not how Harris appeared when she took the witness stand two days last week and told Ta she’d said things in the September interview that weren’t true,. Harris claimed that, in reality, she never saw Tory shooting a gun that night. She wavered on whether Lanez offered her a $1 million bribe not to cooperate in the case, saying he’d mentioned $1 million — and it may have been about the case, but that she wouldn’t call it a bribery. She also never said she took the money, and she made clear when she returned to the witness stand on Thursday that she’s ever taken a bribe from Lanez.

Judge Herriford allowed Harris to invoke her Fifth Amendment right against self-incrimination, then receive immunity from prosecutors for her testimony. Prosecutors have repeatedly said Harris not facing potential criminal charges, though that does not include perjury for false statements on the witness stand.

Jurors already were familiar with Harris’ September interview when they entered Herriford’s courtroom on Monday because Ta questioned Harris about her statements in it extensively after she contradicted herself on the witness stand. But they hadn’t heard the entire recording, and they wouldn’t have had Lanez’s lawyer not pushed Harris in a cross-examination the prosecutor called unprofessional and unacceptable.

Jurors will be instructed they can consider witness demeanor when assessing credibility, and Harris’ demeanor in her September interview appeared relaxed, with her sounding as though she felt relieved while describing in detail an argument and shooting that followed a gathering at reality star Kylie Jenner‘s home that she said has been falsely characterized as a party. She said she and Megan met while students at Prairie View A&M University in 2013. When Megan starting becoming a famous rapper, Harris became her assistant.

The women were best friends, living in the same home and, as Harris told prosecutors, always being together. They were in Los Angeles “shooting the music video to WAP with Cardi B, that’s why we were in L.A.,” Harris testified, when Jenner invited them to her a gathering at her home.

Everything was fine at first, she said, and people were having fun, adding “you flirt” as an example.

“Tory was going between Megan and Kylie Jenner,” Harris said, and Megan was acting obnoxiously as the night progressed.

She and Megan left together, but Megan wanted to return to Jenner’s house not to retrieve her sandal but because she didn’t like Lanez being with Jenner. Megan went out to the pool area then everybody rushes out.

“Kylie comes out but stays on the porch,” Harris said. Megan rushes to the Escalade and they leave with Lanez in a hurry, with his driver at the wheel.

Harris said she was confused when Lanez said something about Megan needing to tell her the truth. She told prosecutors that Megan said something like, “Kelsey don’t listen, he’s trying to make you mad.”

“Next thing you know, the arguing began with Tory and Meg,” Harris said. Lanez called Megan “bitches and hoes,” Harris said, “I stepped in and I said, you know, you’re not going to talk to my friend like that.”

“I Just Thought He Was Coming Our Way to Attack Us”

Harris also told prosecutors, “Honestly, when I argue, I just kind of say things that are hurtful too.” She talked about Lanez threatening to shoot her, saying she told him, “If you shoot me, you shoot me, I guess it’s my time to go.” Then the argument turned to artistry.

According to Harris, Megan said that the only reason Tory is famous is because he did a remix with rapper Jack Harlow.

“I can’t remember what he was telling her, but they just started hitting each other with their careers as an artist,” Harris said. Harris described Megan getting out of the Escalade. On the tape, Harris said she got out after her, then turned at the sound of gunfire and saw Lanez firing a handgun.

After the gunfire, Harris was near Megan when Lanez started coming toward them and, “I just thought he was coming our way to attack us.”

At that point, Lanez “picks me up like a little doll,” Harris said. Her adrenaline is high, and Lanez is “hitting me, slapping me,” she claimed.

“I’m still in defense mode,” she told prosecutors, adding her goal was to “just get him away from Megan.”

“But then I became afraid for my life when he started pulling on my hair and neck, because it was really hard,” Harris claimed.

Photos of Harris’ bruises and missing hair clumps have been displayed in trial and will be evidence for jurors to consider in deliberations. Also entered as evidence is a photo of a loose acrylic nail a police officer found in the street, along with photos of four spent shell casings.

Harris said they didn’t hesitate to get back in the car, but she was “having panic attacks” and Megan asked her to call for help, so she texted Edison.

“I think I said, ‘Help. 911. Tory shot Meg,’” Harris said.

“None of This Is OK”

She told prosecutors she had bruises and hurt physically but she also “hurt emotionally.” She never cried heavily during the interview, but she did take a few moments to compose herself. She recalled the gunpoint Los Angeles police arrest and said she “definitely spent the night in jail.”

She also recalled Lanez calling her from jail hours after the shooting when she was at the hospital waiting for Meg, saying that at the time, she had a friend in jail she spoke with regularly.

“It was normal for him to call,” she said. “I answered and it was Tory.”

She recalled how apologetic he was, discussed him later offering money in association with the case and hearing from his lawyer Shawn Holley and her telling Lanez that what he did “was not OK.”

“Why would you pull out a gun?” Harris said she asked Lanez. “None of this is OK.”

She also described how her friendship with Megan fell apart, saying: “Everybody was playing mind games with me.”

Telling prosecutors she felt in the dark, Harris said she was told “L.A.’s dangerous right now” and Megan said she couldn’t stay at the home after she’d just sublet her Texas place and moved out here.

Prosecutors didn’t speak often, but Bott did ask Harris near the end of the interview if she was relaying everything the way she was to try to get back in Megan’s “good graces.” Harris shot back, “Oh, no,” adding that she’d moved on. When Bott said Lanez needed to be held accountable, Harris agreed and said that what he did was wrong, but she also seemed to blame Megan in part, too, saying that she’d been arguing and obnoxious and it was all unnecessary.

Harris lamented at one point to prosecutors something along the lines of, “we could have all just gone home that night” when talking about how unnecessary the melee all was.

Also testifying Friday were two DNA experts. Though they confirmed Lanez’s DNA was not found on the gun magazine, Lanez can’t be excluded from DNA found on the actual gun. The defense expert said he’d expect someone who fired a gun five times to leave DNA on it, however.

Trial continues Monday in Los Angeles. Judge Herriford said testimony is expected to end Tuesday.

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A graduate of the University of Oregon, Meghann worked at The Spokesman-Review in Spokane, Washington, and the Idaho Statesman in Boise, Idaho, before moving to California in 2013 to work at the Orange County Register. She spent four years as a litigation reporter for the Los Angeles Daily Journal and one year as a California-based editor and reporter for and associated publications such as The National Law Journal and New York Law Journal before joining Law & Crime News. Meghann has written for The Washington Post, Los Angeles Times, The New York Times, Los Angeles Magazine, Bloomberg Law, ABA Journal, The Forward, Los Angeles Business Journal and the Laguna Beach Independent. Her Twitter coverage of federal court hearings in a lawsuit over homelessness in Los Angeles placed 1st in the Los Angeles Press Club's Southern California Journalism Awards for Best Use of Social Media by an Independent Journalist in 2021. An article she freelanced for Los Angeles Times Community News about a debate among federal judges regarding the safety of jury trials during COVID also placed 1st in the Orange County Press Club Awards for Best Pandemic News Story in 2021.