ATLANTA - Atlanta police Officer Radclif Henry finished his testimony in the YSL RICO trial on Thursday.
Officer Henry testified on Wednesday about being dispatched to Grant Park after a shooting. He described to the court how he encountered a person who matched the description of the shooter and gave chase. While running after him, Officer Henry said the person tossed a gun, which he was able to secure.
Eventually, the officer caught up with the person, who told him they were too tired to keep running.
The prosecution is expected to call at most five new witnesses at Friday's hearing, including a GBI agent and a witness regarding the charge of terroristic threats against Young Thug.
Recap of the Young Thug, YSL RICO Trial on Day 7
Jurors in the YSL RICO trial on Wednesday were supposed to be listening to the testimony from police outlining the allegations made against Young Thug's brother. Instead, at least one juror ended up being questioned themselves.
Quantavious Grier, who goes by "Unfoonk," faces theft by receiving stolen property charges. Testimony on Wednesday centered around Grier and his charges in connection with the racketeering case.
Atlanta police investigator Stephen McKesey took the stand Wednesday morning to outline the "overt acts" Grier is accused of in the case.
Atlanta police officer Dwayne Thomas took the stand later after the court’s lunch break. He recounted Grier being detained in September 2020 when he recovered a firearm, which had been reported stolen in Clayton County, in Grier’s waistband. He also testified about finding marijuana under the car.
Thomas also described the gas station where Grier was detained as a known spot for gang and drug activity. Both officers called the area a high-crime area.
William’s attorney tried to poke holes in Thomas’ testimony, attempting to paint Grier as having taken the gun away from an older man who was waving it around at the gas station. He also was able to elicit from Thomas that he didn’t know who the marijuana belonged to during cross-examination.
Atlanta 911 operator Sharon Latners later took the stand to discuss three 911 calls from May 25, 2015. The defense pointed out the shooting took place in three different places and that no description of the shooters was given in each.
The day ended with Atlanta police Officer Radclif Henry on the stand, who was dispatched to Grant Park after a shooting. He described to the court how he encountered a person who matched the description of the shooter and gave chase. While running after him, Officer Henry said the person tossed a gun, which he was able to secure.
Eventually, the officer caught up with the person, who told him they were too tired to keep running.
Juror raises concerns about safety after social media post
In the afternoon, the jury was sent out for a break while attorneys discussed several items. Eventually, they all went to the judge’s chamber.
Back in court later in the afternoon, Fulton County Superior Court Chief Judge Ural Glanville addressed an issue with a juror. One of the jurors had shared a video on her phone with one of the deputies concerned that a well-known blogger had shot images inside the courtroom that could identify that juror and feared retaliation. The image appears to show a monitor with images from the courtroom’s ongoing Zoom call during jury selection.
It was not clear how the juror came across the image as the jury was instructed not to be on social media since October. The image in question was taken and posted around that time. She told the judge she remembered it from then.
The judge spent time reminding the jury to stay off social media before dismissing them for the day.
Who is Quantavious Grier?
Quantavious Grier, who goes by "Unfoonk," is the brother of Jeffery Lamar Williams, who goes by the name Young Thug. He was arrested along with Williams in May 2022, along with two dozen others.
Quantavious Grier, brother of Young Thug, will now have to serve the remainder of his sentence in prison after being discovered with a weapon. (FOX 5)
Grier pleaded guilty to a racketeering charge in December 2022 to avoid prison. As part of the deal, he was sentenced to 12 years, which was commuted to two years of time served, and 10 years of probation.
After his release, Grier reportedly responded to people who accused him of turning on his brother, Young Thug. According to his deal, he is required to testify during the trial, but he can also invoke his Fifth Amendment right to avoid self-incrimination. Additionally, he was ordered to perform community service, abide by a curfew, and not own a gun.
In May, Atlanta police officers pulled over his black Mercedes along Cleveland Avenue. As officers approached the driver, they detected the strong smell of burnt marijuana emanating from the vehicle. Suspecting the presence of narcotics, a K-9 unit was called in to investigate. The police dog quickly alerted the team to the scent of drugs within the car, prompting the officers to remove the occupants from the vehicle for a thorough search.
During the search, officers discovered a handgun stashed away in the driver's door panel. The driver was identified as Quantavious Grier, who was subsequently taken into police custody. Grier was found to be in possession of an illegal firearm, a violation of his status as a convicted felon.
In addition to the weapon, Grier was also charged with improper window tint and a safety belt violation. The officers also accused Grier of being involved in criminal street gang activity. However, no drugs were found on the scene, and no other occupants in the vehicle were charged.
The black Mercedes was impounded as part of the ongoing investigation. Grier was transported to the Fulton County Jail, where he will remain until his scheduled court appearance.
Young Thug, YSL RICO Trial Day 6 Recap
Court got a late start on Tuesday morning in the YSL trial involving Atlanta rapper Young Thug and his associates.
Young Thug, whose given name is Jeffrey Williams, was back in a suit after his attire on Monday caused a stir and speculation that he was trying to convey a message.
Police witnesses took the stand again Tuesday, offering testimony prosecutors hope will build the criminal case against the so-called Young Slime Life gang.
The judge also clarified about filming witnesses in the courtroom.
More testimony is expected to continue on Wednesday.
Follow the Young Thug, YSL RICO Trial with FOX 5 Atlanta:
- Young Thug, YSL RICO Trial Day 1 | Defense asks for mistrial
- Young Thug, YSL RICO Trial Day 2 | Defense argues lyrics are 'art,' not admissions
- Young Thug, YSL RICO Trial Day 3 | Atlanta police gang detective takes stand
What do prosecutors say about Young Thug?
The gang began about a decade ago in Atlanta’s Cleveland Avenue neighborhood, born of an internal rift in a preceding gang, and Young Thug emerged as its leader, Love said. The gang’s members were "associated in fact" — using common identifiers, language, symbols and colors — and they "knew who their leader was and they knew the repercussions of not obeying their leader," she said.
"The people who have been affected directly and indirectly by the gang’s violence represent the lives "swallowed up by that crater created by YSL in the Cleveland Avenue community," Love said.
The Grammy winner, whose given name is Jeffery Williams, was charged last year in a sprawling indictment that accused him and more than two dozen others of conspiring to violate Georgia’s anti-racketeering law. He also is charged with gang, drug and gun crimes and is standing trial with five of the others indicted with him.
Fulton County prosecutor Adriane Love didn’t dispute that Young Thug is a talented artist, but she said he exploited his gift for a darker purpose, using his songs, clout and social media posts to promote and establish the dominance of his gang, Young Slime Life, or YSL.
"Through that music, through that blessing, the evidence will show, Jeffery Williams led that group of people who wreaked utter havoc on Fulton County," Love told jurors during her opening statement Monday.
The indictment charges all the defendants with conspiring to violate the Racketeer Influenced and Corrupt Organizations Act, or RICO. Love acknowledged that may sound complicated but told the jurors it’s actually quite simple.
The members of the gang committed crimes, including murder, armed robbery, aggravated assault and theft to further the gang’s mission, she said. Those actions and others that aren’t crimes — rap lyrics, social media posts, flashing gang signs — combined to form a pattern of illegal activity, she said.
"They endeavored to do some illegal stuff to get a bunch of stuff that didn’t belong to them," Love said.
Prosecutors have made clear that they intend to use rap lyrics from songs by the defendants to help make their case. This is a controversial tactic, but Fulton County Superior Court Chief Judge Ural Glanville earlier this month said he’d conditionally allow certain lyrics as long as prosecutors can show they’re linked to the crimes alleged in the indictment.
Prosecutors have said they’re not pursuing Young Thug and others because of violent lyrics.
"We didn’t chase the lyrics to solve the murders," Love said. "We chased the murders and, as the evidence will show, in the process, we found the lyrics."
One of those murders that is expected to feature heavily during the trial is the January 2015 killing of Donovan Thomas, who prosecutors say was a major figure in a rival gang and whose death is said to have sparked an escalation in violence. Two of the six people currently on trial are charged with murder in his killing, and Young Thug is accused of renting the car used in the drive-by shooting.
What does the defense say in the Young Thug, YSL RICO Trial?
Young Thug was born into poverty in a crime-ridden housing project where he developed a strong distrust of the criminal justice system, Steel said. His family moved to the Cleveland Avenue area when he was 16, and he got out through hard work and talent, Steel said. But he didn’t forget his roots and has been extremely generous with his good fortune, defense attorney Brian Steel said.
"He’s not the crater. He’s trying to pull people out of poverty," Steel said.
Steel acknowledged that his client’s songs mention killing police, people being shot, drugs and drive-by shootings, but he said those are just the words he rhymed and a reflection of his rough upbringing and not a chronicle of his own activities.
"They want you to fear music that talks about killing, drugs," Steel told the jury in his opening statement Tuesday. "It is art. You don’t like it, you don’t have to listen to it. This is America. It is art."
Steel mentioned Young Thug’s collaborations with high-profile artists, appearances on television and numerous awards and riches that came with it. The rapper is so busy and successful that he wouldn’t have the time or motivation to lead a gang, Steel said.
"He is not sitting there telling people to kill people," he said. "He doesn’t need their money. Jeffrey’s worth tens of millions of dollars."
Steel noted that YSL is the name of Young Thug’s successful record label, but Love said the actions outlined in the indictment "have nothing to do with a recording label."
Many of the lyrics, social media posts, text conversations and online messages cited in the indictment have been taken out of context and misrepresented to seem sinister when they are not, Steel said.
He and other defense attorneys tried during opening statements to poke holes in the state’s case, saying that police relied on jailhouse informants who had every reason to tell them what they wanted to hear. They also hammered the state’s use of song lyrics, saying the art that helped their clients better their circumstances is now being improperly used against them.
Opening statements began Monday and continued Tuesday before a jury that took nearly 10 months to select. The trial is expected to last months. Only six of the original 28 defendants are on trial after others either took plea deals or were separated to be tried later.
Among those who took a plea deal was rapper Gunna, whose given name is Sergio Kitchens. He was charged with a single count of racketeering conspiracy and entered an Alford plea in December 2022, meaning he maintains his innocence but recognizes that it’s in his best interest to plead guilty.
The Associated Press contributed to this article.