Murder suspect alleges that rapper Dolla threatened him, admits opening fire, attorney says
The attorney for an Atlanta man accused of killing rapper Dolla earlier this week said his client opened fire after feeling threatened by the rapper and his entourage during a chance encounter in the restroom of a Beverly Center restaurant.
Aubrey Louis Berry, 23, was arrested Monday at Los Angeles International Airport on suspicion of shooting Dolla, whose real name is Roderick Anthony Burton II, as he stood at the valet waiting area of the popular shopping center.
Police allege Berry, a promoter who had had an altercation with Burton at an Atlanta strip club earlier this month, fired at Burton, 21, and two other people who were with him.
“This is not a murder case,” said Berry’s attorney, Howard R. Price. “At worst it’s a manslaughter case, at best it’s a case of self defense,” he said.
L.A. County prosecutors disagree. On Wednesday, Berry was charged with one count of murder and two counts each of assault with a firearm. Police said no other weapons were recovered from the scene and Burton was unarmed.
"Our prosecutors believe the evidence was sufficient for a murder filing," said Sandi Gibbons, a spokeswoman for the Los Angeles County district attorney's office. "We try our cases in the courtroom, not on the sidewalk."
Price said Berry and Burton clashed at the Platinum 21 Adult Entertainment club in Atlanta. Price says Burton and a few members of his crew beat up Berry. Berry and Burton happened to run into each other Monday in the restroom of the P.F. Chang's restaurant in the Beverly Center.
Price described the meeting as a “chance encounter:” Berry was meeting with business associates at the eatery, and Burton and his crew had just arrived at the mall after getting off a flight from Atlanta.
Price alleges that the rapper made verbal threats against Berry, who decided to leave the restaurant. When he got to the mall’s valet parking area, Burton and two other people followed him, the attorney said. Berry thought Burton was reaching for his waistband and fired his weapon.
“He perceived that his life was in danger," Price said. The attorney did not deny that Berry shot and killed Burton, and said his client was cooperating with authorities.
He said officers found a 9-millimeter handgun in Berry's possession when he was arrested at the airport, and that Berry has a concealed weapons permit either from the city of Atlanta or the state of Georgia.
Berry was not aware that his concealed weapons permit did not allow him to carry the handgun in California, Price said. He said that Berry brought the gun to California in a lock box.
Price said that Berry was at the airport to catch a previously scheduled flight to attend his sister's medical school graduation.
He said Berry had been in Los Angeles for “a couple of days” and that reports that he had followed Burton from the airport were untrue.
An arraignment for Berry scheduled for today was postponed until Friday, but at prosecutors' request, Commissioner Kristi Lousteau increased his bail to $5 million.
- Ari B. Bloomekatz