Rapper T.I. testified Friday that he believes the bullets fired at his entourage during a wild vehicle chase two years ago were meant for him.
He took the witness stand in the trial of Hosea Thomas, 34, who is accused of firing the shot that killed Philant Johnson during a gun battle on Interstate 75.
“All of those rounds were fired for me, in my opinion,” he said, adding that he later apologized to Johnson’s mother when he called her with the news.
Testifying for the prosecution, T.I. described seeing Johnson, whom he called his best and oldest friend, after their van pulled over. He said Johnson was lying lifeless, blood running down his face from a shot into his left temple.
Johnson was an assistant to T.I., whose real name is Clifford Harris.
T.I., 28, said he and Johnson had grown up together in Atlanta and their families were close friends.
The shooting occurred after a post-concert party at a club. T.I. said after his van drove away, he spotted another vehicle that seemed to be trying to move up alongside the van.
“Before I knew it, shots rang out,” said T.I, acknowledging that someone returned fire from his van as he took cover. He didn’t identify any shooters.
T.I. wasn’t harmed, but three others were injured. T.I. testified that he received no response when he called out Johnson’s name.
He said that after calling Johnson’s mother, he talked to Johnson’s young daughter, whom he said was 4 or 5 years old.
“I told her that he was gone to a better place and he won’t be coming back. And I told her how much he loved her,” he said.
T.I. spoke calmly and directly for a little over a half hour on the stand in a packed, small courtroom in the Hamilton County courthouse.
Prosecutors say Thomas’ brother has identified him as the shooter. Padron Thomas was driving a Jeep that allegedly chased the vans used by T.I. and his entourage on May 3, 2006.
Hosea Thomas’ attorney said Padron Thomas is testifying against his brother to earn a lesser sentence on federal charges.
T.I. has had his own legal problems. He was sentenced to one year in prison on federal weapons charges after his arrest in October 2007 before the BET Hip-Hop Awards in Atlanta for allegedly trying to buy automatic weapons. He is to start his sentence in March after completing 1,000 hours of community service.
Watch TI Testify Here