LATEST: Rapper Busta Rhymes' late bodyguard, who was killed on Sunday (05FEB06), was a key defence witness in SEAN 'DIDDY' COMBS' 2001 gun trial.

ISRAEL RAMIREZ, 29, was fatally wounded outside a Brooklyn, New York City, warehouse where stars including Rhymes, Missy Elliott and G-Unit rappers Lloyd Banks and Tony Yayo had gathered to shoot a promo.

Despite providing security for a series of urban stars, including 50 CENT, Sean Paul and Keyshia Cole in recent years, back in December 1999 Ramirez was working on the door of Manhattan nightspot Club New York when a shoot-out left three people wounded.

Combs and his then-girlfriend Jennifer Lopez were arrested after fleeing the scene. While Lopez was released without charge, Combs was charged with gun possession and bribery, but was acquitted of all charges in March 2001.

While prosecution witnesses claimed Combs was carrying a gun before the incident, Ramirez testified that he saw the rapper's hands when the shooting began, and they were empty.

Combs' attorney Benjamin Brafman tells the New York Daily News, "I remember Mr. Ramirez from the trial. He was a well-spoken, clean-cut young man who I thought was very impressive."