After the Los Angeles District Attorney declined to charge the man who attacked him during his Netflix Is A Joke set with felony crimes, instead slapping him with four reduced misdemeanor charges, comedian Dave Chappelle has called on the California city’s head legal office to “correct this mistake” and treat the case with the appropriate level of severity.
Current LA DA George Gascón, announced his office’s declining of felony charges against 23-year old male Isaiah Lee, who was initially booked on felony charges after having reached for a spring-loaded knife installed in a firearm shell amidst his rushing of Chappelle during the comedian’s May 3rd performance at The Hollywood Bowl as part of Netflix’s aforementioned comedy tour, in a statement issued through LA County spokesperson Greg Risling.
“After reviewing the evidence, prosecutors determined that while criminal conduct occurred, the evidence as presented did not constitute felony conduct,” Risling told Rolling Stone on May 5th.
According to a document seen by the outlet, Gascón’s office declined to press felony charges after a “slow-motion review of video footage” led them to conclude that Lee was not wielding the weapon when he rushed on stage, instead only reaching for it after it had been knocked out of his waistband backstage, and this his actions failed to meet said felony conduct standards.
He declined to provide any further comment on the case on the grounds that it currently “remains open and under investigation”.
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Rather than any felony charges, Lee now faces an alternative four misdemeanor charges, one each for, as reported by the music and entertainment news publication, “battery, possessing a deadly weapon with intent to assault, unlawfully crossing from a spectator area onto a stage at a theatrical event and interfering with or delaying such an event with unlawful conduct.”
In his first court appearance following the attack on May 6th, Lee pleaded not guilty to all four charges.
In light of this news, issuing a statement through his own lawyer Gabriel Colwell, Chappelle called on Gascón to appropriately “reconsider, correct this mistake and charge this as a felony.”
“This is what Mr. Chappelle wants,” Colwell told Rolling Stone. “Mr. Chappelle wants this case charged as a felony. “Entertainers in Los Angeles need to know that the justice system will protect them on stage.”
Previously, in a separate statement released in the aftermath of the attack, Chappelle’s team told the media, “Dave Chappelle celebrated four nights of comedy and music, setting record-breaking sales for a comedian at the Hollywood Bowl.”
“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,” the statement issued on the comedian’s behalf continued.
It added, “As unfortunate and unsettling as the incident was, Chappelle went on with the show. Jamie Foxx and Chris Rock helped calm the crowd with humor before Chappelle introduced the last and featured musical guests for the evening, hip-hop artists yasiin bey and Talib Kweli, a.k.a. Black Star, who performed music from their new album – the first in nearly 24 years – which was released on Luminary.”
“Other special comedic guests last night included Earthquake, Leslie Jones, Jeff Ross, Sebastian, Jon Stewart and Michelle Wolf,” the statement concluded.
As of writing, Gascón’s office has yet to respond to Chappelle’s request for reconsideration of Lee’s charges.
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