Puff Daddy Acquitted

ByABC News
March 13, 2001, 3:02 PM

N E W  Y O R K, March 16 -- Rap star Sean "Puffy" Combs was acquitted today of all gun and bribery charges stemming from a shootout inside a packed Manhattan nightclub that left three people wounded and sent other patrons scrambling for cover.

"I'm really at a loss, I'm very emotional, I feel blessed," Combs, his mother and his lawyers at his side, told journalists outside the courthouse.

The rapper briskly thanked God, his lawyers and his fans, while declining comment on whether the trial may prompt him to change his lifestyle.

"I'm gonna talk about all that later, right now I want to go and be with my kids," Combs said. "I'm just grateful."

Jones Cleared, Barrow Guilty of Assault

The jury found Combs protégé Jamal "Shyne" Barrow, 21, not guilty of attempted murder but convicted him of reckless endangerment and assault. Bodyguard Anthony "Wolf" Jones, 34, was acquitted of gun possession and bribery charges.

All the charges stem from a Dec. 27, 1999, shooting at Club New York.

Upon hearing the verdict, Combs hugged his lawyers Benjamin Brafman and Johnnie Cochran, who buried their heads against the rap mogul's shoulder.

Brafman rejoiced outside the courthouse. "It's quite customary when people win the Super Bowl, they're on television saying they're going to Disneyland. I feel I just won the Super Bowl and this quarterback is going right to synagogue to thank God."

Co-counsel Johnnie Cochran defended the defense's decision not to call Combs' former girlfriend, singer-actress Jennifer Lopez, to the stand. He called the verdict an "exhilarating victory for Combs."

"Five not guilties," Cochran said, "will resound and ring in our ears forever."

The jury began deliberations in State Supreme Court in New York on Wednesday, after hearing six weeks of testimony in a courtroom packed with reporters and punctuated with hip-hop stars. The 12-member panel deliberated for three days before returning the verdicts.

Barrow could get up to 25 years in prison when he is sentenced on April 16. Tears ran down his cheeks as the jury forewoman read out the guilty verdicts against him.