Bobby Shmurda And GS9 Face 32 More Charges
Bobby Shmurda walked into the Manhattan Supreme Court this afternoon wearing a dark grey sweatshirt and matching sweatpants, hands cuffed in front of him, and expressionlessly looked at the 40-odd friends, family members and reporters assembled in the courtroom. It was the first time the public had seen the 20-year-old Brooklyn rapper, real name Ackquille Pollard, in the six weeks since he and 14 members of his GS9 collective were arrested outside Manhattan's Quad Studios the evening of Dec. 17. Shmurda looked for all the world like he had been dreading this moment. After a brief glance he sat down beside his lawyer, Kenneth Montgomery, and seconds later entered his plea in his now-familiar voice: not guilty.
It wasn't supposed to come to this for Shmurda, who exploded onto the national hip-hop scene with his infectious song "Hot Nigga" and its equally-infectious jig, the Shmoney Dance, this summer. But on Dec. 18, the day after the arrests, the NYPD and the State's Special Narcotics Prosecutor played their hand and laid down 69 charges ranging from drug dealing and murder conspiracies to weapons possession, assault, murder and attempted murder, effectively stopping in its tracks any momentum that Bobby and his fellow Epic Records MC Rowdy Rebel had going for them. Though Epic initially pledged to post Shmurda's $2 million bail, the rapper has been incarcerated in the Manhattan Detention Complex, aka The Tombs, ever since. He's facing four separate conspiracy charges—conspiracy to distribute narcotics, to commit murder, to assault an individual and to criminally possess weapons—as well as reckless endangerment, two individual weapons possession charges and criminal drug paraphernalia use.
Today's hearing was designed as a formality for the record: Shmurda and each of the 14 defendants entered not guilty pleas and Judge James Burke scheduled the proceedings, with the crew's next court date set for Apr. 22. But Shmurda's lawyer, who had only taken on the case recently following the exit of the MC's first lawyer Howard Greenberg, took the opportunity to challenge the eye-popping amount of money the court set for Shmurda's bail.
"There's nothing about a hierarchy about this alleged gang," Montgomery said about the indictment, calling the bail "extremely unfair." The arguments made by the State to secure that figure, he argued, were based on the allegations that Shmurda—far and away the most recognizable face out of the crew—was "a leader and enforcer." Assertions that he says are not supported by the facts included in the indictment. Montgomery acknowledged that the indictment linked Shmurda to the gun charges, but said that it did not implicate him in drug sales or as the head of any type of hierarchy, arguments he used to request a special bail hearing this Monday to reduce the amount.
Judge Burke, while not ruling out the possibility of scheduling the hearing in the future, denied the request, stating that the initial $2 million bail had to be posted before any hearing could be scheduled.
After the hearing, Montgomery elaborated to XXL that he wanted "a firm date to discuss the bail" situation, but that the judge was not willing to grant that. He cautioned that he needed to see how events played out, but when asked if Shmurda's bail could be posted tomorrow, he responded, "Ideally, yes."
Shmurda's lawyer wasn't the only attorney to challenge their client's bail situation. Chad "Rowdy Rebel" Marshall, who is also facing $2 million, also put in a request, while Rashid "Rasha" Derissant and Alex "A-Rod" Crandon, both facing a second degree murder charge among other counts, were denied bail. Judge Burke refused to lower bail for any of the defendants today, instead promising to revisit the claims Apr. 22.
Part of those challenges from defense attorneys came as the State added an additional 32 charges to the original indictment, bringing the total number to 101. All but five of those charges stem from the Dec. 17 "takedown" that police staged at Quad Studios, and all 32 are either second degree criminal possession of a weapon, third degree criminal possession of a weapon or criminal possession of a firearm. Due to the additional charges, three individuals — including Aja Davis and Michael Legall — were added to the indictment.
Time ticks on and charges continue to pile up as another month slips by. If his lawyer has his way, Bobby Shmurda could be, temporarily at least, a free man tomorrow. But either way, this case has a long way to go before any concrete resolution is reached. XXL will continue to keep you updated as this story develops. —Dan Rys