A state judge Friday ordered Baton Rouge rapper NBA YoungBoy held behind bars until at least June 21 while authorities probe whether a man seen in a social media video making violent threats is — as the judge strongly suspects — the same rapper she put on probation in 2017.
That rapper, Kentrell Gaulden, who performs as NBA YoungBoy, came to District Judge Bonnie Jackson’s courtroom Friday with his attorneys for a review of his probation in a nonfatal 2016 drive-by shooting in Baton Rouge to which he pleaded guilty to aggravated assault with a firearm, but he didn’t walk out of the downtown courthouse with those lawyers.
Instead, the judge put a probation hold on him and remanded him to the custody of the East Baton Rouge Parish Sheriff’s Office. She could end up revoking his probation and sending him to prison.
Gaulden pleaded guilty to the firearm charge in May 2017, and Jackson gave him a suspended 10-year prison sentence in August of that year and put him on probation for three years.
Jackson, who reminded the 19-year-old Gaulden that a condition of his probation in that case calls on him to refrain from all social media activity, said she received a news feed on her cellphone Sunday about a fatal shooting in Miami that involved Gaulden and his girlfriend, who was shot in the shoulder.
Authorities have said gunmen opened fire on Gaulden and several of his associates, and legally armed members of his entourage returned fire, killing a bystander. Miami-Dade police have said no members of Gaulden’s party will be charged because they fired in self-defense.
An embedded video in that news feed that Jackson received purportedly showed Gaulden “talking trash and smack” in a threatening way, the judge said.
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Jackson said the young man killed in the shooting had the misfortune of coming into the path of Gaulden and others on Sunday.
“He’s dead because he got caught up in this foolishness in your world,” the judge said.
Jackson referenced the threatening social media video that she believes showed Gaulden speaking and asked him sternly and slowly, “Who do you think you are?”
“All around you people are dropping dead, and you don’t care,” she added.
Gaulden’s agent, Desmond “Dump” Hardnett, was fatally shot in May 2018. That case hasn’t been solved.
Jackson said that if she receives “concrete, demonstrable evidence” that Gaulden is the man in the social media video she viewed last weekend, she would revoke his probation and order him to serve the suspended 10-year prison term she gave him in 2017.
The judge, who said she’s 90 percent sure Gaulden is the person in the video, scheduled a hearing for June 21. She did not allow Gaulden to speak during Friday’s proceeding.
Gaulden has been arrested twice since Jackson put him on probation, and East Baton Rouge Parish prosecutors have twice asked the judge to revoke his probation, calling him a “threat to society and the safety of others.” The judge decided not to revoke his probation after Gaulden’s February 2018 arrest. Prosecutors filed a second probation revocation motion after his arrest earlier this year.
Gaulden’s lead attorney, James Manasseh, said Friday outside the courthouse that he hopes to persuade Jackson not to revoke his client’s probation. Manasseh acknowledged that he hasn’t seen the video the judge referenced.
“I believe the judge wants to do the best she can for the community and the people who come before her,” he said.
Manasseh also said he believes the judge is fatigued with what has been going on around Gaulden.
“But that fatigue is not his fault,” the lawyer said.
Manasseh said the shooting in Miami was an assassination attempt on Gaulden’s life.
“He’s an absolute victim. There’s no question,” Manasseh said, adding that Gaulden’s mother also was in the car with Gaulden and his girlfriend when it was shot up.
Manasseh said Gaulden told him that if he could trade places with the man killed in the Florida shooting, he would.
Local authorities are working with investigators in Miami to determine whether last weekend’s gun violence in south Florida is the result of continuing feuds among rival rappers from Baton Rouge, and whether the Sunday shootout has connections to other gun violence in and around Miami last weekend.
East Baton Rouge Parish District Attorney Hillar Moore III said Friday he hasn’t received any new information from Miami authorities.
Gaulden was in Miami last weekend to perform at the Rolling Loud music festival, and was with his girlfriend outside the Trump International Beach Resort when gunmen in a passing Cadillac Escalade shot at Gaulden and several of his associates.
The 2016 shooting in Baton Rouge to which Gaulden pleaded guilty to aggravated assault with a firearm occurred on Kentucky Street. Authorities believe the shooting was retaliation for the death of another teenage rapper earlier that year.
Gaulden was arrested in early 2018 in Florida on a fugitive warrant from Georgia on domestic violence-related kidnapping and assault charges. Manasseh said Friday prosecutors have offered to reduce the charges to misdemeanors. Gaulden was arrested again earlier this year in Georgia on disorderly conduct, drug and other charges in an incident involving the housekeeping staff at an Atlanta hotel, but Manasseh said those charges have been dismissed.
Jackson has sternly lectured Gaulden in the past. When the judge put him on probation in August 2017, she acknowledged his right to musical expression but said his genre of rap music has “normalized violence.”