After being released on parole following serving a 25-year sentence, Kerry Lathan stopped by Nipsey Hussle's Marathon clothing store to pick up some new clothes so that he could look his best while reuniting with his family and friends. However, while at the store in Los Angeles on March 31, Lathan found himself in the crossfire of a shooting that ultimately ended the rapper and entrepreneur's life, as well as injured one other person.
As reported, Lathan was treated at an area hospital and later released to a halfway house. After sustaining injuries that bound him to a wheelchair, the 56-year-old was then re-arrested due to his interactions with Nipsey, who police say previously admitted to once being a member of L.A.'s Rollin' 60s Crips. As such, Lathan's association with the rapper was interpreted to be a violation of his parole conditions to not have any contact with known gang members, leading to his being arrested and charged.
Lathan, who is currently being held at a jail in downtown Los Angeles, recently hopped on a call from behind bars with VladTV and Eugene "Big U" Henley, the latter of which managed Nipsey at one time during his career, to discuss his recollection of the tragic events that took place last month. During the call, Lathan, who was released from prison in 2018 after serving more than 24 years in prison on murder charges, shares that he didn't know Nipsey too well and only became aware of his celebrity status later on.
"He might've gave me a couple pictures … When I got out, I took a selfie with him," Lathan said. "He's a celebrity. Everybody's taking selfies, let me take one. That's on my phone in front of The Marathon Store." He then noted, "Nipsey heard that I was home and filled up my little sister's backseat of her car with clothing for me... I was out seven months before this happened."
Around five minutes into the interview, Lathan reflected on the shooting incident that took place outside of the Marathon Clothing store. According to his account, his nephew, Shermi Villanueva, who was also shot but avoided serious injury, told his uncle to pick up a new shirt prior to meeting a friend whose father had died. After Lathan saw the store was out of a specific item he was hoping to buy, he caught up with Nipsey in the parking lot to talk to him about it.
"When I go in there, they didn't have the white [shirts] that I wanted," he explained during the phonecall. "I said, 'When y'all gon' get that in again?' He said, 'Well, there go Nipsey in the lot. Go talk to him.' And I talked to him. He said, 'That'll be about a week, bro.' I said, 'OK.' And when I said it, it was all bad. The gunman turned around the car and shot me, then shot Nipsey, and then shot my nephew. I didn't know what was going on; I fell on my stomach. All I could see was people's feet. I couldn't see nothing else. I said so they got it wrong if they talking about me being an eyewitness. What was I supposed to do? When I see a gun, I turn around and run. I don't stop and take a selfie of the gunman. It all happened in less than three minutes."
Lathan, who was hit by a bullet close to his spine, explained how when he was in the hospital, he was visited by multiple parole officers.
"I was there a couple of days and the parole officer came," Lathan said. "He said, 'This is the one that's over me.' And I said, 'OK.' So, the one that was over him talked to me and interviewed me and stuff, then he left. So, they came back again two days later with a third parole officer. I'm like, 'What's going on now?' They said, 'We gotta take you into custody.' I said, 'For what?' They said, 'It's over our pay grade. It ain't us. It's higher than us.' I said, 'What do you mean?' He said, 'It's the parole board.'"
He continued, "When I get [to Men's Central Jail], they say, 'You're here for [a] parole violation.' I said, 'For what?' 'Well, coming into contact with a known gang member.' I said, 'Man, I didn't come into contact with nobody. I was visiting some people, going to pay respects to a person's father who just passed away.' My buddy Ronnie, his father just died that Sunday. So, that's all I was doing. And I was just gonna change my shirt so I could look presentable in front of they people. That's it. And when I stopped over there with Nip, I got shot."
According to reports, Lathan is still waiting for an official decision to be made regarding his alleged parole violation. In the meantime, the non-profit We are Developing Options, Inc. has set up an official GoFundMe page to raise money to assist with any pending medical bills and other expenses.
Check out Kerry Lathan's full interview below.