Nipsey Hussle died in hail of bullets: prosecutor

·3-min read

Grammy-winning rapper Nipsey Hussle was shot at least 10 times after telling his attacker there was talk that the assailant was "snitching," a murder trial in Los Angeles heard Wednesday.

After a conversation with the gang member-turned-community-activist that included allegations that the shooter was talking to the police, alleged assailant Eric Holder pulled out two guns -- one in each hand -- and repeatedly shot Hussle in March 2019, a prosecutor said.

The violent daytime killing of the "Racks in the Middle" artist triggered an outpouring of grief in his native Los Angeles and among his superstar peers, who hailed both his musical talents and tireless community organizing.

Raised in the city's Crenshaw district, Hussle, who was 33 at the time of his death, had transformed the block he used to hustle on into a retail, job-creating hub for his Marathon Clothing company.

But he remained linked to the gang-ridden world he grew up in.

During opening statements in the trial on Wednesday, prosecutor John McKinney said Hussle had told Holder there were rumors Holder had been "snitching," but that there was "no hostility" before Holder left the parking lot where the two were talking. McKinney did not say what this "snitching" involved.

However, when he returned a short time later, Holder "pulls out not one but two guns and starts shooting."

"You can see him shoot from the left hand and the right hand," McKinney said, referencing surveillance camera footage.

Hussle was hit by at least 10 bullets in an "explosion of violence," in which he was "shot from literally the bottom of his feet to the top of his head."

Holder, 32, then kicked the fallen rapper in the head and told him: "You're through," before running from the scene, the prosecutor told the jury.

Holder, an aspiring rapper, is charged with murder, two counts each of attempted murder and assault with a firearm and one count of possession of a firearm by a felon.

Defense attorney Aaron Jansen said his client acknowledged killing Hussle, but denied it was premeditated.

"This is a case about heat of passion," he told jurors.

Jansen conceded that bullets that Holder fired not only killed Hussle, but also hit another man and may have injured a third.

He noted that Holder surrendered at a mental health clinic three days after the shooting.

Thousands of people gathered in April 2019 for a service in Hussle's honor, with Stevie Wonder and Snoop Dogg among those paying tribute.

In a letter that was read during the service, former president Barack Obama wrote, "While most folks look at the Crenshaw neighborhood where he grew up and see only gangs, bullets and despair, Nipsey saw potential. He saw hope. He saw a community that, even through its flaws, taught him to always keep going."

Hussle was posthumously honored with two Grammy Awards in 2020 for best rap performance for "Racks in the Middle" and for best rap/sung performance for "Higher."

The trial continues.

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