NEW YORK Was Puffy Combs ducking from a gun pointed at him, or hiding a firearm as police came to arrest him? That was the question in court Thursday afternoon, as Officer Joe Libraro testified that just before police found a gun under a seat of the Lincoln Navigator in which Puffy fled Club New York on December 27, 1999, Combs had been leaning down near the seat.
"I looked into the car I saw [Combs] bent down ... underneath the front seat," officer Joe Libraro said. He added that he couldn't see Combs' hands.
During cross-examination, Libraro said he had his gun pointed at Combs at that moment, Defense lawyer Benjamin Brafman suggested that Combs was bent over to protect himself from police.
In other testimony Thursday, Sergeant Jack Konstandinidis, who chased the Lincoln Navigator that night in a now-famous run through 11 red lights, said police separated Combs, driver Wardel Fenderson and bodyguard Anthony "Wolf" Jones after seeing them confer with each other following their arrests. Combs and Jones both face bribery charges for allegedly trying to convince Fenderson to claim ownership of the gun found in the Navigator.
"I see Sean 'Puffy' Combs looking in Anthony Jones' direction his mouth is moving," Konstandinidis said. "Jones is shaking his head, [indicating] 'No, no.' Eventually he puts his head down and didn't look at Combs."
Combs next spoke to Fenderson, who didn't appear to say anything in reply, but looked shocked. An officer then noticed that the three men were talking, and separated them, according to Konstandinidis.
Combs has steadfastly maintained that he did not have a gun that night. In addition to bribery, he is charged with possession of two guns: one that he allegedly carried in the club and one found in the Navigator.
Konstandinidis also told the jury that singer/actress Jennifer Lopez, who was in the Navigator with Combs, Jones and Fenderson, tried to walk away after police stopped them.
"I said, 'Jennifer, come over here.' She said, 'I'm going home.' I said, 'No, you're not,' " Konstandinidis said.
An officer grabbed Lopez and she was arrested, though no charges were filed against her.
Konstandinidis testified that on the way to the station house, Combs asked him why Lopez had been arrested, and Konstandinidis explained that since no one had taken responsibility for the gun in the car, all four people had to be arrested.
Combs then asked what would happen if someone admitted owning the gun, and the officer replied that that person alone would most likely be charged.
"Deal. When we get back to the precinct, I'm gonna let you know whose gun it was," Combs replied, according to Konstandinidis.
Lawyers for Combs said before the trial that they intend to use those comments to argue that when Combs spoke to Fenderson, he was trying to find the real owner of the gun.
Prosecutor Matthew Bogdanos had tried to get the comments suppressed, calling them "self-serving hearsay," but Judge Charles Solomon allowed them.
Earlier, the officer who arrested Shyne, after he allegedly ran out of the club moments after the shooting, described seeing a gun in the rapper's waistband when he raised his hands. Shyne is charged with attempted murder. (Click HERE for a complete explanation of the charges in the case. For our complete trial coverage, click HERE.)