The man injured in the shooting that killed Grammy-nominated rapper Nipsey Hussle spoke out for the first time on Wednesday after being arrested on an alleged parole violation.
Kerry Lathan, 56, told reporters that he was “shook up” during a press conference when asked how he felt about his arrest after being shot alongside Hussle in front of the rapper’s store Marathon Clothing earlier this month.
Lathan, who was convicted of murder in 1994 and is currently on parole, was arrested after being hospitalized with a gunshot wound to the back. Individuals who are on parole are barred from contact with known gang members or people convicted of felonies.
During his rap career, Hussle was transparent in his music and interviews about his former affiliation with the Rollin’ 60s, a gang linked to the Crips. Lathan is on parole after serving about 25 years in prison. He was released from police custody last weekend.
During Wednesday’s press conference, Lathan, who is now in a wheelchair due to the shooting, said that Hussle had moved on from the gang life and was an activist in the South Los Angeles community.
“If you say a person has made a change, or a metamorphosis, you can’t take an inchworm, then turn it into a butterfly, and put him back into an inchworm. That’s what Nipsey did,” Lathan said, describing Hussle’s life after his gang affiliation. “He transformed around there and tried to make money off his rap albums to help the community, to give back when there was no one giving back. So how can you put a halo and then put horns?”
When asked how he felt about being dragged into a parole violation controversy in the aftermath of Hussle’s death, Lathan said, “straight chaos.”
Lathan previously told Vlad TV that he was at Hussle’s store buying a shirt. Moments before the shooting, Lathan said he saw the rapper outside and approached him to ask him about the merchandise.
He also told AllHipHop News that he didn’t know Hussle personally, but knew that the artist gave former inmates merchandise.
Lathan’s attorney, Lauren Noriega, who spoke with him at Wednesday’s press conference, noted that it was the parole board, and not the Los Angeles Police Department, that was responsible for Lathan’s arrest.
Noriega also criticized Lathan’s arrest and mistreatment as a victim of a shooting, blaming the arrest on laws that she says are designed to keep reformed inmates marginalized.
“The law is written in a way where really reformed and rehabilitated gang members have no opportunity to be seen as a reformed and rehabilitated in the eyes of the law,” she said.