NEW YORK While Wu-Tang Clan rapper Ol' Dirty Bastard sat
in a jail cell on charges of attempted murder of a police officer this
past weekend, investigators had yet to recover the gun used in the alleged
crime, according to court officials.
The embattled hip-hop artist was arraigned on the first- and second-degree
attempted-murder charges Saturday night after allegedly engaging in a
shootout with police Friday evening in Brooklyn's Crown Heights section.
"[ODB] stated he had a cell phone in his hands," said Patrick Clark,
Manhattan Criminal Court spokesman. "He denied using a gun."
Bail was set for $150,000 after the hearing in Brooklyn Criminal Court.
The rapper, who has several other criminal cases pending, was taken to
Riker's Island correctional facility after the hearing, where he was to
remain until bail is posted for his release.
The 30-year-old rapper (born Russell Tyrone Jones) did not enter a plea
when he went before Judge JoAnn Ferdinand on charges of first- and second-degree
attempted murder of a police officer and second- and third-degree possession
of a weapon. Police allege ODB shot at them after he was stopped for a
Meanwhile, the gun that police allege ODB used in the incident has not
been recovered by police investigating the incident, according to Clark.
Police would not comment on the investigation.
ODB's lawyer, Peter Frankel, said the rapper did not have a gun in his
possession when he was pulled over and was holding a cell phone, according
to a spokesman for the Brooklyn D.A.'s office. Frankel insisted that
police fired the only shots.
"Absolutely not, there was no gun confiscated," he said.
Prosecutor Lawrence Oh told the court ODB was wearing a bulletproof vest
when he was arrested. Four plainclothes officers in an unmarked vehicle
stopped ODB at Dean and Troy avenues shortly after 8 p.m. Friday. The
rapper allegedly had been driving with his cousin Frederick Cuffie, 37,
in a 1999 green Chevrolet Tahoe with the headlights off, police said.
ODB was driving wildly "cutting in and out of traffic that
kind of thing with his headlights off," Clark said.
Oh told the court that two officers had approached the vehicle and
identified themselves as police when the rapper began shooting at them,
according to Clark, who was reading from a court summary of the arraignment
hearing. The officers returned fire, police said.
Clark had no information on how close police were to the rapper when the
alleged gunshots were fired. No injuries were reported.
ODB hit the car's gas pedal as police continued to fire shots, the
prosecutor stated in court. Although the car's rear tire was hit by a
bullet, ODB drove several blocks to an aunt's house, where he was arrested,
Clark said. Oh claimed that four spent shells were recovered from the
scene at Dean Street.
A law enforcement source, who asked not to be named, confirmed police had
searched ODB's vehicle for a gun and evidence of gunfire but said the
results were not known at press time.
"I have witnesses that say that at no time did he have a gun and at no
time did he shoot a gun," Frankel said.
In court, Frankel claimed ODB was holding a cell phone when police
approached his vehicle with guns drawn, a D.A. spokesman said. Police
began firing, provoking ODB to flee the scene, the rapper's lawyer claimed.
Police acknowledge ODB had a cell phone in his possession. Frankel also
told the court that Cuffie, who was in the car's passenger seat, corroborated
ODB's statement. Cuffie has not been charged.
Citing unnamed sources, the New York Times reported Sunday (Jan.
17) that Cuffie has agreed to testify against ODB in exchange for not
being charged with attempted murder.
But Clark said Cuffie was not charged because he did not commit a crime
by fleeing the scene. "There was no evidence he was guilty of a crime,"
Clark said. He said no deal was made with Cuffie.
A law-enforcement source, who requested anonymity, called the Times
report premature and said the claim is inconsistent with statements
presented in court.
"Mr. Cuffie gave a version of what happened, and Mr. Frankel put that
version on the record," the source said. "Mr. Cuffie confirmed what Mr.
Jones said happened, and what Mr. Jones said is, 'I didn't have a gun,
I didn't fire at police, I had a cell phone in my hand and they began
shooting at me.' And Mr. Cuffie confirms that."
Oh, prosecutors in the Assault on Police Unit of the Brooklyn district
attorney's office and detectives working on the case could not be reached
for comment Sunday.
In pushing for a high bail, Oh gave the court several examples of ODB's
criminal history, going back to 1990, when ODB was convicted in Los Angeles of threatening to commit a crime with intent to terrorize. The prosecutor also informed the judge that the defendant had been bench
warranted four times for failing to appear in court.
Oh requested bail be set at $200,000 but Ferdinand set it at $150,000.
ODB is due back in court to answer the charges Thursday.
Reached Sunday, a man named Frederick Cuffie who claimed to be the
grandfather of both ODB and his cousin, said he had not been in touch
with his grandchildren but had heard about the incident. "It's just one
of those things," said the 84-year-old Frederick Cuffie. "If you do
something wrong, the law has to do as they do."
Clark said ODB could face life imprisonment if convicted of first-degree
attempted murder. A grand jury will begin reviewing evidence and hearing
witness testimony on Tuesday morning. Frankel may decide to call ODB as
Friday's incident is the latest in a series of run-ins with the law for
Most recently, on Nov. 5, ODB was arrested in Compton, Calif., for allegedly
threatening to kill a former girlfriend, who is also the mother of his
On Sept. 17, he was busted in West Hollywood, Calif., for allegedly
threatening to kill security officers at the House of Blues nightclub.
Both cases were sent to Los Angeles County superior courts in December.
ODB is due to answer each set of charges next month.
Meanwhile, ODB remains a wanted man in Virginia after failing to appear
on charges that he shoplifted a $50 pair of tennis shoes July 4. Three
warrants for his arrest in that case are still outstanding.
The nine-member Wu-Tang Clan are considered one of the most revolutionary
hip-hop outfits of the '90s. With their murky, menacing mix of hardcore
beats, piano and minimal samples, the Clan have produced such hits as