The defamation lawsuit, obtained by Rolling Stone, was filed by A$AP Relli – real name Terell Ephron – and alleges that Tacopina and Rocky launched a smear campaign against Ephron in the wake of a shooting incident allegedly involving the pair in 2021.
The new lawsuit stems from the ongoing criminal charges which allege that Rocky shot and injured Ephron during an altercation in Downtown Hollywood in November 2021. Following that case – which saw Rocky plead not guilty to two charges of assault with a semiautomatic firearm last August – Ephron now claims that the rapper and his lawyer have defamed his character in the press.
In a statement provided to Pitchfork, a representative for Ephron said statements made by Tacopina in the media throughout 2022 “were false and malicious, and have caused Mr. Ephron extreme reputational and emotional harm which must be remedied”.
Ephron claims that public statements made by Tacopina, at Rocky’s behest, led to damage to his reputation, personal brand and future income, as well as his status as a member of A$AP Mob. The lawsuit claims Ephron received death threats and was subject to ridicule as part of Tacopina’s press campaign to “impugn and malign” his character.
In exchange, Ephron is seeking punitive or exemplary damages, plus legal fees. The lawsuit outlines ten instances where Ephron was allegedly defamed in the press, including one case where Tacopina told outlets that Ephron was extorting Rocky through litigation. The 33-page lawsuit claims that Tacopina smeared Ephron’s name in Rolling Stone and TMZ, as well as on a radio show last September.
In a statement to Rolling Stone, Tacopina – who has previously represented former President Donald Trump and rapper Meek Mill – said he “welcomes this litigation”. He continued: “It’s unfortunate that these lawyers don’t know the facts of this case or the actions of their client but I will be happy to educate them.”
In a statement to TMZ, Tacopina described the case as “nothing more than a publicity stunt which is going to backfire badly”. Rocky himself has not publicly responded to the lawsuit.
The defamation suit comes two months ahead of Rocky’s scheduled preliminary hearing in the criminal shooting case. If convicted, the rapper could face up to nine years in prison, though Tacopina has maintained his client’s innocence and alleged that Ephron was the aggressor in the 2021 incident.
“He tried to attack Rocky and some other guy got involved, and he punched some other guy in the face and knocked his teeth out, and of course now, according to him, he’s a victim,” Tacopina told Rolling Stone.
Ephron’s lawyers, meanwhile, claim that he was “lured” to a remote back alley, where Rocky brandished a handgun “without provocation” and “intentionally” fired multiple shots, resulting in bullet fragments to his hand.