Rapper 50 Cent appeared in court Friday for a preliminary hearing on gun charges, and though he didn’t speak during the appearance, he maintained his innocence outside the courtroom via his lawyer.
The Queens, New York, hip-hop artist, born Curtis Jackson, was arrested early Tuesday morning in New York when police allegedly found two loaded guns in his rented SUV (see “50 Cent Arrested For Gun Possession” ). He posted $10,000 bond and was released on Tuesday (see “50 Cent Released From Police Custody” ).
Though the rapper has yet to enter a formal plea, his lawyer, Robert Kalina, told MTV News that his client is “as innocent as anyone I’ve ever seen or heard.” Kalina said Jackson is cooperating with prosecutors and only hopes to help them “learn the truth of what happened.”
Though police arrested all five occupants of the SUV, prosecutors declined to charge the hired driver of the vehicle, instead charging Jackson, one of his bodyguards and two rap associates — Timothy Bonaparte, Christopher Lloyd and Jean Bernard — with criminal possession of a weapon in the second degree and unlawful wearing of a body vest. Lloyd and Bernard comprise 50 Cent’s rap crew G-Unit, in which they go by the names Lloyd Banks and Tony Yayo. Bernard remains in custody because of an outstanding warrant for his arrest in Queens.
According to the police report, the first gun sighted — a small, black .25 caliber semiautomatic pistol — was on the floor. The second gun — a loaded .45 caliber semiautomatic pistol — was underneath the front passenger seat. Kalina suggested that the guns belonged to the two bodyguards, both of whom reportedly are licensed to carry firearms. “The bodyguards did what they conceived to be the right thing,” he said.
Bonaparte, who also works as a bounty hunter and is reportedly licensed to carry firearms in Connecticut and Florida, claimed the .25 caliber gun was in his possession, taken from a bail jumper he had been pursuing. He intended to turn it over to police, according to statements his lawyer, Charles Pringle, made at the arraignment hearing Tuesday.
The .45 caliber gun reportedly belongs to another bodyguard, Dream J. Robinson, who had exited the vehicle before police searched it. Since he was not in the SUV, Robinson was not arrested with the rest of the entourage.
Jackson is due back in court March 25.