Dave Chappelle’s assailant Isaiah Lee has pleaded not guilty to misdemeanour charges filed against him by the Los Angeles City Attorney. Lee was taken into custody for attacking Dave Chappelle during his set at the Hollywood Bowl on 28 April and was found in possession of a toy gun that contained a foldable knife.
Lee’s not-guilty plea comes off the back of the Los Angeles County District Attorney’s Office declining to prosecute Lee with a higher charge of a felony offence. The DA’s charge evaluation sheet noted that Lee was not holding his weapon at the time of the attack and the security staff was quickly able to separate the two. The evaluation sheet also stated that Chappelle was not injured and Lee’s weapon was folded throughout the altercation while concluding that under that set of circumstances, a felony charge would not be sustained by the laws of California.
The comic wasn’t pleased with the reduced charges. Chappelle’s lawyer Gabriel Colwell told Rolling Stone, “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.” Colwell continued, “This is what Mr. Chappelle wants. Mr. Chappelle wants this case charged as a felony.” Finally, Chappelle’s lawyer made a larger point about the safety of artists in Los Angeles. The DA went on to plan a roundtable with stakeholders to discuss the safety of performers, venue staff and patrons in the city.
Meanwhile, the Los Angeles City Attorney Mike Feuer has filed four misdemeanour charges against Lee for 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 the event or interferes with the performer. In a video statement, Feuer stated, “This alleged attack has got to have consequences.” He continued, “My office takes protecting public safety extremely seriously and we are going to vigorously prosecute this case.”
Should Lee be able to post his $30,000 bail, the Soundcloud rapper has been ordered to stay at least 100 yards away from Chappelle, the Hollywood Bowl and any venue where the comedian performs. If convicted Lee could face up to 18 months in county jail and/or a fine up to $4,000.