Dave Chappelle’s lawyer says the comedian is unhappy with Los Angeles County District Attorney George Gascón’s decision not to file felony charges against the man who allegedly attacked him on stage.
“It’s a travesty of justice that Gascón is refusing to prosecute this case as a felony,” Gabriel Colwell told the New York Post on Friday. “The city attorney, who filed the case, is doing his job but DA Gascón should also do his job and charge this as a felony.
A man accused of attacking comedian Dave Chappelle faces charges. Annette Arreola reports for Today in LA on Friday May 6, 2022.
“… Entertainers in LA need to know this is a justice system that will protect them. There is no question here that when someone is violently assaulted by another in possession of a deadly weapon that it should be charged as a felony.”
Colwell echoed those comments to Rolling Stone magazine, telling the publication: “This is what Mr. Chappelle wants. Mr. Chappelle wants this case charged as a felony. … Ten thousand people saw Dave Chappelle assaulted on stage at the Hollywood Bowl last Tuesday night, and the assailant had a deadly weapon on him. The fact that this isn’t charged as a felony case by the DA is insane.”
Isaiah Lee, 23, was charged Thursday by the Los Angeles City Attorney’s Office with single misdemeanor counts of battery, possession of a weapon with intent to assault, unauthorized access to the stage area during a performance and commission of an act that delays an event or interferes with a performer. He appeared in court Tuesday for a bail review hearing at which bail remained set at $30,000.
Lee is due back in court May 20 after pleading not guilty to the four misdemeanor counts.
Earlier Thursday, the Los Angeles County District Attorney’s Office announced that it would not file any felony charges against Lee.
“After reviewing the evidence, prosecutors determined that while criminal conduct occurred, the evidence as presented did not constitute felony conduct,” according to a statement from the District Attorney’s Office.
The office opted to refer the case to the City Attorney’s Office, which handles misdemeanor prosecutions.
Attempts to reach the District Attorney’s Office for a response to Colwell’s remarks on Sunday were not successful.
Authorities said Lee rushed the stage at the Bowl around 10:45 p.m. Tuesday while Chappelle was performing as part of the “Netflix Is A Joke Festival.” Online video showed Chappelle being thrown to the ground by the suspect, prompting the venue’s security staff and Chappelle’s crew to rush on stage to subdue the assailant. Among those running to protect Chappelle was actor/comedian Jamie Foxx.
According to the Los Angeles Police Department, the suspect was in possession of a replica handgun equipped with a retractable knife blade. The LAPD circulated photos of the weapon Wednesday afternoon.
Lee tried to scramble backstage after the attack, but was forcefully subdued by security. Subsequent footage showed the bloodied assailant with facial bruises and a seemingly broken arm being placed on a gurney and taken away in an ambulance.
Lee, who was initially booked on suspicion of assault with a deadly weapon, remains jailed in lieu of $30,000 bail. If he manages to post bail and is released, he was ordered to remain at least 100 yards away from Chappelle and the Hollywood Bowl.
Lee appeared in court in downtown Los Angeles Friday with his right arm in a sling — the result of his violent arrest on stage at the Bowl, when he was quickly and forcefully detained by security and Chappelle’s entourage.
If convicted of all counts, Lee could face up to 18 months in county jail and/or up to $4,000 in fines, according to the City Attorney’s Office.
It was unclear how the suspect was able to carry a weapon into the venue. The Los Angeles Philharmonic Association, which oversees the Bowl, announced Thursday that it will be beefing up security at performances in response to the Chappelle attack.
On Instagram, Lee goes by the moniker “Noname_Trapper,” which is the name of a rapper whose work includes a 2020 song titled “Dave Chappelle.”
Lee posted a short video on Instagram on Tuesday, saying nothing but showing him wearing the same hooded sweatshirt in which he is pictured wearing while handcuffed to the paramedics’ gurney Tuesday night after the attack.
Lee said nothing on the short video, but used a video filter showing himself with devil-like horns on his head and blood trickling from his nose — also similar to the blood seen on his face following his detainment at the Bowl.
Tuesday’s attack occurred on the final night of a four-night engagement of Chappelle and fellow performers at the Bowl as part of the “Netflix Is A Joke Festival.”
Carla Sims, a representative for Chappelle, issued a statement Wednesday calling the attack “unfortunate and unsettling,” but said the comedian was not letting it mar the overall series of performances.
“Dave Chappelle celebrated four nights of comedy and music, setting record-breaking sales for a comedian at the Hollywood Bowl,” according to Sims. “This run ties Chappelle with Monty Python for the most headlined shows by any comedian at the Hollywood Bowl, reaching 70k fans of diverse backgrounds during the first `Netflix Is A Joke: The Festival,’ and he refuses to allow last night’s incident to overshadow the magic of this historic moment.”
On Thursday night, Chappelle made a surprise appearance at the Comedy Store on Sunset Boulevard, and according to various media reports, the comedian said he had a chance to talk to Lee before he was taken away by paramedics.
Chappelle told the crowd that Lee claimed the attack was designed to draw attention to the plight of Lee’s grandmother, who was displaced from her Brooklyn home due to gentrification.