NEW YORK Rapper Sean "Puffy" Combs may have helped get actress/singer Jennifer Lopez off the hook after the two were arrested in connection with a triple shooting at a nightclub in December, court papers released this week divulge.
While he was under arrest, Combs asked police if weapons charges against Lopez would be dropped if someone claimed ownership of two guns one found in the vehicle they fled the club in, another believed to have been tossed out its window according to papers compiled by prosecutor Matthew Bogdanos.
The paperwork, disclosed voluntarily by the prosecution, describes how Combs "repeatedly, spontaneously, and not in response to questioning, asked officers why Jennifer Lopez was being arrested, why all four of them were being arrested, what would happen if one person claimed ownership to the gun, whether Ms. Lopez would be released if anyone claimed ownership of the gun and whether it was too late for someone to claim ownership of the gun."
On Monday Combs pleaded innocent to the two felony weapons charges he was indicted on last month. He faces up to 15 years in prison if convicted.
Combs, Lopez, bodyguard Anthony Jones and driver Wardel Fenderson were arrested Dec. 27, minutes after a shooting at Manhattan's Club New York. Prosecutors have said Fenderson sped through 11 red lights before stopping the Lincoln Navigator he was driving. The vehicle is owned by Combs' Bad Boy Entertainment.
Police found a loaded 9 mm handgun, gun cartridges and a holster underneath the passenger's seat, according to the papers. They later found another loaded 9 mm handgun that they believe was thrown out the sport utility vehicle's window. Officers also found marijuana on Jones, but drug charges were later dropped.
At a press conference the next day, Combs denied that he owned a gun or that he possessed one the night of the shooting. A police document included in the papers shows that investigators inspected Combs for gunpowder residue, but it does not give any details.
Johnnie Cochran, Combs' lead attorney, declined to comment through his publicist. Cochran and lawyer Benjamin Brafman were hired by Combs after the rapper's indictment. Neither Brafman nor Harvey Slovis, Combs' regular defense lawyer, could be reached for comment. Spokespersons for Combs and Lopez also could not be reached for comment.
Jamal "Shyne" Barrow, a Combs protégé signed to Bad Boy, is a suspect in the case and was indicted on three counts of attempted murder. Barrow faces up to 25 years in prison and has yet to enter a plea. Barrow, according to the papers, was identified by witnesses in a lineup. He is accused of opening fire in the club after a club-goer threw money in Combs' face.
Three people were injured: Natanya Ruben, 29, was shot in the face, and Julius Jones, 27, and Robert Thompson, 39, were both shot in the shoulder. Jones and Ruben spent several days in the hospital. Thompson refused treatment.
Combs and his bodyguard were indicted on two counts each of weapons possession in late January. Jones has yet to be arraigned or to enter a plea.
Lopez, an actress who has appeared in the films "Selena" and "Out of Sight," released On the 6, her pop-music debut, last summer. The album features the hit "If You Had My Love" (RealAudio excerpt). Combs followed in August with his second album, Forever, which debuted at #2 on the Billboard 200 albums chart and featured songs such as "Best Friend" (RealAudio excerpt).