Alleged Puffy Gunshot Could Have Wounded People, Detective Says

Though he testifies that a bullet from rapper's gun couldn't have directly hit club-goers, he says fragments could have.

NEW YORK — Pieces of a bullet allegedly fired by Sean "Puffy" Combs into the ceiling of Club New York could have ricocheted and hit club-goers, a detective testified Wednesday afternoon.

Detective Edward Wallace's testimony seemed to support the possibility, floated by Jamal "Shyne" Barrow's lawyer, that that bullet could have been the real cause of injuries for which Shyne is facing attempted-murder charges.

At first, the detective appeared to shoot down that theory, saying, "It is a distinct possibility that this bullet upon impact with the concrete ceiling could have disintegrated."

When asked by prosecutor Matthew Bogdanos if the bullet that hit the ceiling could have wounded the victims, Wallace, a crime scene expert who studied Club New York after the Dec. 27, 1999, shootings, said scientific evidence showed that to be impossible.

But under cross-examination by Shyne's lawyer, Murray Richman, Wallace said he had been talking about the entire bullet, not possible fragments of it. He acknowledged that pieces of such a bullet could have hit people.

On Wednesday morning, Richman had pressed the prosecutor for more information on the bullet Combs allegedly fired, while staying clear of any direct suggestion that Combs caused the injuries in the club. He asked Bogdanos to explain how he was certain that a bullet hole in the ceiling of the Manhattan club came from a gun Combs fired.

Bogdanos said he had already given the defense the grand jury testimony of a witness who claimed to have seen Combs fire a gun, as well as scientific evidence confirming a bullet hole in the club's ceiling.

Combs' lawyers, who were not in court when Richman first raised the idea (see "Shyne Lawyer Raises Possibility Of Puffy As Shooter"), showed no reaction to Richman's argument on Wednesday. They and Combs sat at a table with Richman.

Shyne is accused of shooting three people at Club New York early on the morning of December 27, 1999; Combs is alleged to have fired a gun at roughly the same time.

Also on Wednesday, Leonard Curtis Howard, a Combs security employee who testified on Monday that he detected no sign of a gun after grabbing Combs around the waist and watching him dance at the club, responded to accusations that his testimony was inconsistent with what he told a grand jury. He explained under cross-examination that he is forgetful because of medication he takes for cancer.

The prosecutor had accused Howard of perjury on Monday, after the jury left the courtroom, saying he changed his testimony to help Combs. Howard had told a grand jury that he had no way of knowing whether Combs had a gun or not.

Combs' lawyer, Benjamin Brafman, on Wednesday asked Judge Charles Solomon to declare a mistrial, claiming Bogdanos improperly tried to discredit the testimony of Howard, who the prosecutor himself had called as a witness. The judge brushed aside the request.

Under later cross-examination by Brafman, Howard — who showed little emotion on the stand — said he had told the truth to the best of his recollection.

He added that he had never known Combs to carry a gun. "If he is to carry a firearm, there is no purpose to me being around," Howard said.

Howard also testified that he wasn't with Shyne as he entered the club, and had no idea if the rapper was searched.

Combs, in a black suit with gray pinstripes and a silver tie, appeared particularly interested in Howard's testimony. He wrote in a notebook and whispered to his lawyers as the witness spoke.

Defense lawyers cross-examined Wallace, the crime scene expert, through the afternoon.

In his testimony, Wallace described six bullet holes inside the club. Howard had said he found two 9-millimeter bullet casings, one 9-millimeter bullet fragment, two 40-caliber casings, and two deformed 40-caliber bullets.

Shyne, who faces charges of attempted murder, reckless endangerment and weapons possession, and Combs, who is charged with weapons possession and bribery, are each accused of firing 9-millimeter guns at the club. Bogdanos said in his opening statement that the 40-caliber bullet evidence remains a mystery.

(Click HERE for a complete explanation of the charges in the case. For our complete trial coverage, click HERE.)