"Puffy" Trial: The PEOPLE Report
Sean "Puffy" Combs took the stand in his own defense Thursday in his gun possession and bribery trial, testifying that he thought he was the intended victim when shots rang out at Club New York on Dec. 27, 1999, reports PEOPLE and the Associated Press. "I thought I was being shot at," Combs told attorney Benjamin Brafman. "My hands were up. I started to go down. Everybody started falling all over each other." Among the people falling on top of him, Combs added, was his bodyguard, Anthony "Wolf" Jones, who is also charged with gun possession in the trial. Combs said the gunfire rang out shortly after Jones accompanied him and his then-girlfriend, singer Jennifer Lopez, from the VIP section of Club New York to the exit early that December evening -- just after Combs and his entourage walked past a large circular bar in the center of the club. At that point, they encountered a man later identified as Matthew "Scar" Allen, whom Combs said was "mouthing off" at him. "It was such a positive, festive night," Combs told the prosecution on cross-examination, "his face was so negative. It looked like he had a problem." Combs then added that immediately after he saw the man at the bar, whom Combs said he did not know, four shots rang out. After the second shot, Combs said he fell to the ground. "The last thing I was looking at before the shots was somebody looking very irate and looking at me," Combs told prosecutor Matthew Bogdanos and a jam-packed courtroom which included rapper Heavy D. In the chaos of the shooting, Combs said he became separated from Lopez and saw her run up a flight of stairs to the club offices. "I can't go," he recalled telling his bodyguard. "I have to go find Jennifer." But eventually, Combs said, he, Lopez and two bodyguards left in the Navigator driven by Wardel Fenderson. What happened next is for the jury to decide. Prosecutors allege that Combs tried to bribe Fenderson into claiming ownership for the gun police found. But on the stand Thursday, Combs vehemently denied the charge. The Combs and Jones defenses have now rested. The defense portion of the trial of Jamal "Shyne" Barrow, Combs's bodyguard, who stands accused of attempted murder, begins on Friday. As Combs's defense rested, the rap mogul hugged two of his attorneys, Johnnie Cochran and Benjamin Brafman. On his way out of the courtroom, Combs was mauled by about 60 to 70 enthusiastic supporters, who chanted, "Set him free!"
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