Charges dropped against Lil Durk in 2019 Varsity shooting

The Fulton County District Attorney’s Office will not prosecute Chicago-based rapper Lil Durk in a 2019 shooting that left a man seriously injured near The Varsity. He’d faced several felonies, including criminal attempt to commit murder, aggravated assault, possession of a firearm during the commission of a felony, participation in a criminal street gang and possession of a firearm by a convicted felon.

In a court filing last week, the DA’s office cited prosecutorial discretion as its reason for dropping the charges. “The facts of this case have been reviewed and, although it appears that probable cause existed for the defendant’s arrest, the decision of the District Attorney at this time is not to prosecute,” Deputy District Attorney Christopher Sperry wrote in the filing.

Lil Durk, 30, whose real name is Durk Derrick Banks, had said he was not involved in the Feb. 5, 2019 shooting.

Explore‘I have nothing to hide’: Rapper Lil Durk denies involvement in Varsity shooting

After felony warrants were issued by Atlanta police in the case, Banks said he canceled his 2019 tour and flew back to Atlanta to turn himself in. Just before handing himself over to deputies at the Fulton County Jail, a new song titled “Turn Myself In” was uploaded to the rapper’s YouTube channel.

“Once I heard, I immediately came back,” Banks said in an interview with Channel 2 Action News at the time. “I have nothing to hide. I have nothing to run from.”

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Just before 6 a.m. on Feb. 5, police said gunfire erupted outside The Varsity at the intersection of North Avenue and Spring Street. It was less than two days after the Super Bowl was held at Mercedes-Benz Stadium.

The victim, then 23, was shot once in the thigh. Investigators believed a dispute started in the parking lot of the Varsity. After the victim was shot, he ran across the street before collapsing in front of a nearby cigar lounge, according to a police report.

Credit: JOHN SPINK / JSPINK@AJC.COM

Credit: JOHN SPINK / JSPINK@AJC.COM

The shooting was captured on surveillance cameras from both the Varsity and the cigar bar, according to investigators. The victim was rushed to Atlanta Medical Center for surgery after the bullet struck his femoral artery, police said in the report. The hospital’s emergency room has closed ahead of the facility’s complete closing on Nov. 1.

Investigators discovered 13 shell casings from a pistol and a rifle in the parking lot. A 9mm handgun was also recovered. Witnesses interviewed at the scene told police the victim appeared to be in a verbal dispute with another man before shots rang out.

An Atlanta police detective later testified that surveillance footage captured Lil Durk firing a weapon from a vehicle near the restaurant’s parking lot.

“You see Mr. Banks’ arm out the window firing several shots at the victim,” Detective Jeffrey Churchill said.

Fellow Chicago rapper Dayvon Bennett was also charged, but the 26-year-old musician, who went by King Von, was killed the following year in a shootout outside a downtown Atlanta nightclub.

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In a statement, Banks’ attorney said after three years, his client can finally put this behind him.

“I am glad that the charges from three-plus years ago have been dismissed,” defense attorney Manny Arora said Monday. “While it is unfortunate that it took so long to reach the conclusion that we had argued from Day 1, I’m glad that all involved can now move on.”