A Brief Legal Analysis of the Troy Ave Charges

A Thoughtful Look At The Troy Ave Charges + How This Compares To the Plaxico Burress & Shyne Cases

First and foremost the situation that transpired at Irving Plaza a couple weeks ago is quite saddening and my heart goes out to the victims. That said, the response to it by some in the media, by the NYPD and by those on social media all seem to be a classic case of a rush to judgement. I’m no legal expert, simply because I lack the necessary degrees, but I studied law in college and have a pretty good understanding of NY law, enough to provide a brief legal analysis of the Troy Ave charges and a look at the road ahead for the rapper.

Brooklyn bred emcee Roland Collins, is known as Troy Ave for the street in Crown Heights where the rapper was raised. He’s been on an independent grind since at least 2009, hustling mixtapes and creating visuals that helped him build his buzz in the industry.   He broke out right around 2013 releasing New York City: The Album. The following year XXL added him to their Freshmen Class cover. His 2015 album, Major Without A Deal cemented him as an independent artist to be reckoned with. Features from 50 Cent, Puff Daddy, Ma$e, Cam’ron, Snoop Dogg and Fat Joe proved that he had a winning formula that was accepted by his peers.  And though he is 30 years old, he seemingly had a bright future in the industry.

All that success may have literally gone up in a hail of gun fire on May 25th. But when it comes to incidents involving Hip-Hop artists  things aren’t always as they seem.  Troy Ave has been hit with a slew of charges, but how much of this is to appease the media and Hip-Hop critics that were circling this unfortunate event hoping to find someone of note to crucify.
On June 9th prosecutors officially indicted the rapper, thanks to a grand jury vote.  Troy’s charges are still sealed, so there’s some uncertainty on the extent of the full charges, however we do know the basics.

Let’s look at the Troy Ave charges:

These charges can be reduced or more charges can be added particularly to add murder charges.

Troy Ave is charged with criminal possession of a weapon, reckless endangerment, menacing, and attempted murder.

The criminal possession of a weapon charges are likely the charges the district attorney will be hanging his hat on. With what appears to be Troy on video shooting the gun, this one is a no brainer. He likely will face the same charges Plaxico Burress faced years ago.   Under NY statute Troy Ave’s looking at a C class felony with a 15 year maximum sentence, with a 1 year mandatory minimum.

Plaxico agreed to a plea deal for a lesser gun charge back in 2009 and served 20 months on a 2 year sentence.

While the gun charges are similar to Plaxico’s and Troy’s attorneys will hope that’s all that sticks, the rest of this case is eerily similar to the charges another New York rapper faced early in his career, back in 1999 when Bad Boy artist, Shyne ended up taking the fall for the club shooting at Club New York.

Shyne faced charges of assault, reckless endangerment, and gun possession and he faced 25 years. He was sentenced to 10 years serving time concurrently  (at the same time) on the various charges (he faced 25 years if the judge would have sentenced him to consecutive sentences).  Shyne ended up serving almost 9 years for the incident, getting sentenced at just 22 years old.  Officially Shyne was convicted on two counts of assault, reckless endangerment and gun possession. The rapper admitted to firing a gun at Club New York, but maintained that he was acting in self-defense and that another gunman’s bullets injured the two victims. He faced up to 25 years in prison.

That’s nearly identical to what we expect to see with the final Troy Ave charges.
In Troy’s case the attempted murder charge can easily be downgraded to assault if the bullets don’t match up to the murder.  And if he can prove the bullets don’t match or that he was acting it self-defense/reacting to the shooter, he has a great chance of getting off on all the other charges except the weapons possession.

Back to the facts here:

Troy was shot in the leg and his bodyguard, Ronald “Banga” McPhatter was shot in the stomach,  a shot that proved fatal. Troy was later driven to the hospital by a member of his team and in the car parked at the hospital three guns were found.  Multiple outlets have already reported that the gun matches the gun used in the club.  Additionally, in New York, it does not matter who drove the car, the guns can all be pinned on Troy here, especially if the driver doesn’t cop to owning it… and even if someone else does claim ownership, the prosecutor is still able to charge Troy if they think they can prove that they were all his guns.

Within hours of the shooting a video was released of Troy firing off a weapon at least once backstage as patrons fled. The eleven second video was released by the NYPD, which in itself is suspicious, since they already had Troy in custody at the hospital. No other video has been released and no co-defendants or other suspects have been named although five shots were fired.

Clearly Bill Bratton, the NYC police commissioner and the NYPD wanted to pin this case on someone… anyone. Any time a Hip-Hop act can be made an example of, NY acts swiftly.  Its never a good sign when the commissioner, gets on radio and says, “The crazy world of these so-called rap artists who are basically thugs, that basically celebrate violence they did all their lives, and unfortunately that violence oftentimes manifests itself during their performances…”
A two time commissioner in the mecca of Hip-Hop should know better than to utter those words, but clearly he is unapologetic to the cause.

I offer no excuses for Troy, that’s what his attorney is for and frankly he will have more access to the facts of this case than myself. However, I do find it hard to believe that Troy would shoot his own bodyguard… and would have a need to storm out in that video still firing if he didn’t indeed have himself in a position where he was trying to get back at his assailants.
The only problem would be if he indeed picked up the gun of that assailant after the initial scuffle.  That’s where eye witnesses will need to come in.

For now, Troy Ave is being held without bail, basically hoping the police continue to do their job.  So far the prosecutor has asked for a DNA sample from Troy and the NYPD has said they are looking for other suspects, but the more this case dies down, the longer Troy will be sitting in prison, wasting away.  His next court date is June 22nd and plenty can go down before then, but either way, Troy is going to need all the help he can get.

Kevin Benoit

Kevin Benoit is the editor of Parlé Magazine. He founded the magazine while in college and continues to run it today. Follow him on IG: @parlewithme Read more articles by Kevin.

Kevin Benoit has 1788 posts and counting. See all posts by Kevin Benoit


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