Dave Chappelle attacker charged with four misdemeanors

A 23-year-old man accused of attacking comedian Dave Chappelle during a performance was charged on Thursday with four misdemeanor criminal counts after the city’s district attorney declined to bring more serious charges.

Isaiah Lee, who was subdued after tackling Chappelle, 48, to the stage floor on Tuesday evening, was charged by the Los Angeles City Attorney’s Office with battery, possession of a weapon with intent to assault, and two other misdemeanor counts.

“This alleged attack has got to have consequences,” City Attorney Mike Feuer said in a videotaped message.

Feuer announced the misdemeanor charges just hours after the city’s top prosecutor, District Attorney George Gascon, declined to prosecute Lee. A spokesman for Gascon said a review of the evidence did not show felony conduct.

Under California law, a misdemeanor carries a maximum sentence of one year in county jail. In Los Angeles, Feuer’s office prosecutes misdemeanors while the district attorney is responsible for felony cases.

Police say Dave Chappelle was performing at the Hollywood Bowl on Tuesday when Lee rushed at the comedian, knocking him to the ground. Lee was subdued near the back of the stage as he sought to flee.

Chappelle returned to the stage after a short break, unscathed from Tuesday’s attack, and went on with the show, ad-libbing jokes about the incident and about what happened to the suspect, who was seen being chased down onstage by security personnel. He did not appear to be injured.

Chappelle said it was fortunate his assailant was ‘clumsy’, adding, “He’s back there getting stomped,” according to video footage of the altercation posted online by the celebrity news website TMZ.com.

The performer’s representatives said on Wednesday that he was fully cooperating with the police investigation.

“As unfortunate and unsettling as the incident was, Chappelle went on with the show,” his spokesperson, Carla Sims, said in a statement on Wednesday, crediting Chris Rock and fellow comedian-actor Jamie Foxx with helping to ‘calm the crowd’.

The attack on Chappelle occurred Tuesday night during a sold-out appearance by the Emmy-winning entertainer as part of an 11-day Netflix is a Joke festival, featuring many of the leading names in stand-up comedy.

At the time of the assault, the comedian was headlining a multi-act show billed as Dave Chappelle and Friends and was acknowledging a producer who was working at the show’s DJ booth.

Video of the incident shows the suspect charging onto the stage, apparently from the audience, and launching his upper body into Chappelle, slamming his shoulder into the comedian’s ribs and chest.

Both men fell to the floor before scrambling back to their feet, and the suspect darted away, chased briefly by Chappelle at first. He dodged a swarm of people for several seconds before they tackled him near the back of the stage.

The attack sparked comparisons to a bizarre incident during the Academy Awards ceremony in March at which actor Will Smith smacked comic Chris Rock onstage, apparently over a joke about his wife, Jada Pinkett Smith.

Rock joined Chappelle onstage a short time after the attack, took the microphone, and quipped, “Was that Will Smith?”

Following the attack, she said Chappelle introduced the final act of the show, the hip-hop musical duo Black Star. Other comedians on the bill included Earthquake, Leslie Jones, Jeff Ross, Sebastian, Jon Stewart, and Michelle Wolf.

Earlier on Tuesday, Lee was immediately identified and was being held in jail on a $30,000 bond after being charged. A Los Angeles Police Department spokesperson said the suspect had in his possession a replica handgun containing a knife blade when he attacked Chappelle.

Photos of the suspect seated on an ambulance gurney afterward showed his face visibly bruised and his right arm apparently dislocated or broken.

Chappelle drew a backlash last year for material presented in his Netflix comedy special ‘The Closer’ that some in the LGBTQ community branded as ridicule of transgender people. Supporters of the comedian viewed the material in question as a cry against ‘cancel culture’.

The comedian himself alluded to the controversy from the stage shortly after he was tackled on Tuesday, quipping, “It was a trans man,” eliciting laughter from the crowd.

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