A man who was standing near Nipsey Hussle when the rapper was struck down by gunfire in 2019, testified Thursday in Los Angeles that he tried to run away but was instead shot and still has a bullet inside his body.
Kerry Lathan took the stand in day 2 of the trial and described what he witnessed on March 31, 2019. Lathan, a convicted murderer, told the court he went to Hussle’s Marathon Clothing store in South L.A. to pick up a package of clothes from the rapper after being released from prison.
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Lathan said he had just shaken Hussle’s hand when gunfire suddenly rang out.
“Were you talking to [Nipsey Hussle] when someone walked up and shot you?” Deputy District Attorney John McKinney [shown above] asked.
“Yes,” Lathan responded. “How many shots did you hear?” McKinney asked.
“A lot,” he responded.
Lathan said he tried to run away, but only made it a few steps before he was shot. Lathan told the court he now uses a walker to get around and he suffered a stroke after the shooting.
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Prosecutors say Eric Holder, now 32, opened fire on Hussle that day killing the 33-year-old rapper and injuring Lathan.
Holder is charged with on one count each of murder and possession of a firearm by a felon, and two counts of attempted murder and assault with a firearm.
Hussle, real name Ermias Asghedom, was shot at least 10 times. Prosecutor McKinney told the court Hussle was “shot literally from the bottom of his feet to the top of his head.”
McKinney said Holder fatally shot Hussle after he went to the store and the rapper accused him of “snitching.” The prosecutor said Holder left, but returned a short time later with a gun in each hand.
“At about 3:20 that afternoon, there was an explosion of violence,” McKinney told the court.
Holder is said to be a gang member and McKinney noted Wednesday in court that the gunman became angry after being called a “snitch.”
“No gang member wants to be considered a snitch. It is highly offensive to any gang member to even suggest it, that he is a snitch,” McKinney said.
Prosecutors played surveillance footage from businesses in the area.
“If you look closely, you’ll see [Holder] shoot him at one point from the left hand and the right hand,” McKinney said Wednesday.
After the shooting, the gunman walked up and kicked Hussle in the head.
“You will find from that kick to the head, it was very personal,” McKinney said.
Both Holder and Hussle grew up in the same neighborhood in South L.A., according to prosecutors.
Holder’s public defender Aaron Jansen admitted his client “shot and killed” the rapper, but said the crime occurred in the “heat of passion.” He added that the bullet “accidentally hit Mr. Lathan.”
Testimony in the case resumes Monday.