NEW YORK Seconds before Natania Reuben felt the "flaming hot sledgehammer" pain of a bullet hitting her face, she saw both Sean "Puffy" Combs and Jamal "Shyne" Barrow pull out guns and fire, she testified Monday morning.
Reuben wept on the stand as she described her pain and fear when she was shot, knocked to the floor and trampled at Club New York on the morning of December 27, 1999.
"Blood began pouring out of my face," she said, her voice cracking. "I looked to the sky and said, 'Please don't take me.' "
Combs, who Reuben claimed had a black gun, appeared to fire upward toward the ceiling, she testified.
Combs' lawyer Benjamin Brafman has in the past called Reuben who has filed a $150 million lawsuit naming Combs, Barrow and bodyguard Anthony "Wolf" Jones, among others a liar and an opportunist. On Monday, he showered her with a stream of accusatory questions.
He asked if she remembered telling a friend that she didn't recall the details of the shooting. He asked if she told another friend that she needed people to back up her claim that Combs had a gun, so that she could profit from her lawsuit. He asked if Reuben testified that Combs wore a fur-lined coat during the shooting only because she had seen him wearing it on TV after the incident. No other witness has testified that Combs was wearing a coat inside the club that night.
She answered no to each question.
Judge Charles Solomon also sustained objections to several of Brafman's questions about Reuben's appearance on the television show "The People's Court," in which she sued the landlord of her Brooklyn beauty salon for allegedly not providing heat.
Brafman had tried to ask Reuben whether she had fabricated a videotape she presented as evidence on "The People's Court." Reuben's "People's Court" past was first reported by MTV News (see "Shooting Victim In Puffy Case Has 'People's Court' Past").
Out of the jury's presence, Brafman asked the judge to allow him to enter the "People's Court" episode into evidence. The videotape Reuben presented in the episode shows "that she is willing to go that far to fabricate evidence," Brafman argued.
Prosecutor Matthew Bogdanos called Brafman's argument "laughable" and "absurd." The videotape Reuben used was not intended to deceive anyone, Bogdanos said, adding that she had won the case.
Solomon ruled against the request to introduce the tape of the "People's Court" episode as evidence, but did not rule on a request from Brafman that he be allowed to ask Reuben whether she lied about her savings when she applied for public assistance.
In her testimony, Reuben said that she had met Combs and Shyne before the incident and that she also knew the person whose argument with Combs allegedly sparked the shooting.
Like other witnesses, Reuben identified that person only as "Scar," but Brafman asked her if she knew that his name was actually Matthew Allen. Reuben said she didn't know him by that name.
Shyne is charged with attempted murder, assault, reckless endangerment and weapons possession, while Combs and Jones face bribery and weapons possession charges in the shooting. (Click HERE for a complete explanation of the charges in the case. For our complete trial coverage, click HERE.)