Five members of rapper Tekashi 69's security team, including a former New York City police detective, have been charged with robbery and criminal impersonation after lying and saying that a man filming the rapper threatened them with a gun, officials announced Monday.
"A celebrity entourage is not a police department, and Manhattan is not the Wild West,” said Manhattan District Attorney Cy Vance Jr. in a press release.
Tekashi 69, whose real name is Daniel Hernandez, faced the possibility of decades in prison on federal racketeering and arms charges until he made the decision in December 2019 to testify against former members of his gang in exchange for a dramatically reduced sentence of just two years. But due to the pandemic, Tekashi 69 served even less time and was released in April 2020.
Several months later, on Aug. 9, 2020, Tekashi 69's security detail spotted a 34-year-old man trying to film the rapper on his phone as they drove through Harlem.
The three SUV security detail then pursued the man and his girlfriend in a high-speed chase with sirens and flashing lights for over 20 blocks, according to the DA.
The man tried to wave down a NYPD car; however, one of Tekashi 69's security team, former NYPD detective Daniel Laperuta, waved a retired NYPD Member of Service card at the officers and told them that the man had threatened Tekashi 69 and his team with a gun.
After the high-speed chase, Tekashi 69's security team boxed in the man's SUV in Harlem.
Video posted to social media shows the confrontation, where a man can be heard challenging Tekashi 69 to fight him. "Don't act tough, pussy," he declared.
Moments later, the man can be heard yelling, "give me my money, give me my phone."
According to the DA, one of the security guards, Sammy Sprouse, opened the man's car door and grabbed his arm, causing him to drop his phone. Another security guard then stomped on the phone.
When the man tussled with a guard, Laperuta put his hand on his holster. Another guard, Christian Cortez, pointed a taser at the man, the DA said. The video shows a man holding a weapon in his hand.
In the video, multiple people can be heard yelling, "don't shoot, don't shoot."
Laperuta, the former officer, called 911 and again falsely claimed that the man had threatened them with a weapon. He then walked into the 28th precinct and again tried to claim the man had threatened them with a weapon, but withdrew the claim after another officer questioned its plausibility.
Tekashi 69 was not among those charged on Monday.
Information regarding the defendants' defense attorneys was not immediately available.
Back in 2006, Laperuta was named in a lawsuit for wrongful arrest in which the victim received a $30,000 settlement from the city. Laperuta was also mentioned in a lawsuit filed in 2013, where a man alleged that NYPD officers, including Laperuta, wrongfully detained him for days on charges that were later dismissed. The case was settled out of court.
Laperuta's father was also a police officer, serving over five decades with the NYPD.
“False reports – especially about firearms – can carry devastating consequences and fortunately, no one was injured or killed in the actual police response," said Vance.