Though authorities are reportedly interested in speaking with Tony Yayo about the murder of a man on the set of a Busta Rhymes video on Sunday morning, the G-Unit member's lawyer said his client has nothing to say.
"He has not been questioned, and based on my conversations with the New York police and the Brooklyn County district attorney, he is not a target of the investigation," attorney Scott Leemon said.
According to a witness who requested anonymity, Yayo was present on the set of the shoot for before shots were fired and Israel Ramirez, a member of Rhymes' security staff, was killed by a single bullet to the chest (see "Police Want To Question Busta Rhymes About Fatal Shooting At Video Set"). The source said Yayo was overheard insulting several rival crews prior to the incident and then apologizing to Rhymes for the disturbance.
Leemon would not comment on his client's whereabouts during the time of the shooting or his alleged actions on the set. "I have informed [the authorities] that I am his attorney and that we will not be making any statements to law enforcement. I say that because after what happened to Martha Stewart and Lil' Kim, I don't think any competent lawyer would allow his client to speak to authorities, and it's not in [Yayo's] character to speak to the authorities."
An NYPD spokesperson said Tuesday (February 7) that the investigation into the incident is ongoing. He would not comment on whom authorities are seeking to interview. On Monday police commissioner Raymond Kelly said Rhymes is one of the witnesses police want to speak with, and Newsday reported that Yayo is also being sought for questioning. According to Newsday, Yayo was supposed to be in the video but was ejected from the studio for unspecified reasons, and was later heard by witnesses saying that no one tells him to be quiet and that he is on parole.
Leemon said Yayo is on federal supervised release until May, that he completed New York State parole in December on gun-possession charges and that no one has formally contacted him about speaking to the rapper about the murder. The lawyer said he preemptively informed the DA's office that he was representing Yayo after reading stories about the shooting in the press. By law, once the authorities are notified that a person is represented by counsel, they cannot speak to that person without the lawyer present.
According to Newsday, both Rhymes (born Trevor Smith) and Yayo (born Marvin Bernard) had initially promised to meet with detectives on Monday and then reneged on those offers at the last minute. Leemon said his client never promised to speak to police.
Rhymes' lawyer did not return calls for comment on the report at press time, and a spokesperson for his and Yayo's label, Interscope Records, issued a statement of no comment. The paper also reported that Missy Elliott, who was inside the studio when the shooting occurred outside on the street, was cooperating with detectives.
According to Newsday, Rhymes has offered to pay for the funeral expenses for Ramirez, who was on site to guard the rapper's jewelry during the filming of the video. Ramirez's sister, Claurice Lara, told the paper that Rhymes made the offer after first reportedly having an employee make a condolence call to the victim's family.
"I think as soon as this incident happened — this tragedy of an incident — he should have picked up the phone and at least talked to my mother," Lara told Newsday. "I really think that being my brother worked for him for such a long time the first thing he should have done, instead of trying to protect himself, was call us."