News, Culture & Society

Dave Chappelle’s attacker appears in court as he pleads not guilty on MISDEMEANOR charge

The man arrested for attacking Dave Chappelle at the Hollywood Bowl appeared in court on Friday with a bandaged arm in a sling as he pleaded not guilty to misdemeanor charges and being held on $30,000 bail. 

Isaiah Lee, 23, was charged with 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 after he allegedly attacked the comedian on Wednesday night. 

He appeared at an LA court on Friday in prison robes and an N-95 COVID mask.  

A judge also ordered Lee to stay at least 100 yards away from Chapelle, any venue where he is performing and from his residence, as well as to stay 100 yards away from the Hollywood Bowl.   

Lee, who faces 18 months in count jail if convicted, ran on stage at the Hollywood Bowl yielding a knife that was hidden inside a replica gun as he attempted to tackled Chappelle, 48.

The comedian was able to sidestep Lee and was unharmed. The attacker was then arrested at the scene, and taken to hospital with a broken arm.

Isaiah Lee, 23, (right) appeared in court on Friday and pleaded not guilty to misdemeanor charges for attacking comedian Dave Chappelle

A judge also ordered Lee to stay at least 100 yards away from Chapelle, any venue where he is performing and from his residence, as well as to stay 100 yards away from the Hollywood Bowl

 A judge also ordered Lee to stay at least 100 yards away from Chapelle, any venue where he is performing and from his residence, as well as to stay 100 yards away from the Hollywood Bowl

Lee had allegedly jumped on stage and tried to attack Chappelle, who was able to sidestep his attacker and avoid injury. Lee had been carrying a knife and inside a replica gun

Lee had allegedly jumped on stage and tried to attack Chappelle, who was able to sidestep his attacker and avoid injury. Lee had been carrying a knife and inside a replica gun 

Lee suffered a broken arm after security arrested him and took him off stage

Lee suffered a broken arm after security arrested him and took him off stage

At Friday’s court hearing, Lee’s attorney said the the man never brandished his concealed weapon at any time when he stormed the stage. 

Lee is due back in court for a pretrial hearing on May 20.   

Chappelle has not yet publicly reacted to the decision, but during a comedy show on Thursday night, the comedian revealed that he has spoken with the attacker. 

Chappelle said that he asked police whether he could speak to Lee, who had stormed onto the stage holding a replica gun with a knife attached. Police granted him access to a room where he was being held. 

‘I needed to talk to him,’ Chappelle told his audience at LA’s Comedy Store’s secret 70-chair room the Belly Room on Thursday night, according to The Hollywood Reporter. 

Chappelle said that the attack was down to Lee’s grandmother from Brooklyn, who was forced out of her neighborhood because of gentrification, and the stunt was meant to draw attention to the issue. 

He joked about the situation alongside fellow comedian Chris Rock, who was slapped by Will Smith during the Oscars ceremony, stating: ‘At least you got smacked by someone of repute! I got smacked by a homeless guy with leaves in his hair.’ 

Chappelle also joked that his attacker was a transgender man, a reference to his Netflix special The Closure which sparked woke fury over his gags about transgender people and support for JK Rowling. 

The author has been castigated for insisting that transgender women should not be given access to some single-sex spaces including changing rooms and women’s prisons for safety reasons.  

On Wednesday, Chapelle said via a representative that he did not want the incident to ‘overshadow’ a great event, referencing his Netflix comedy show. 

‘Dave Chappelle celebrated four nights of comedy and music, setting record-breaking sales for a comedian at the Hollywood Bowl….and he refuses to allow last night’s incident to overshadow the magic of this historic moment.’

‘As unfortunate and unsettling as the incident was, Chappelle went on with the show,’ his rep said.

Netflix and the Hollywood Bowl said they were cooperating with the police investigation into what happened.

Chappelle (pictured) joked about the incident and said he spoke with Lee following the attack, claiming that Lee had pulled the stunt to raise awareness about gentrification in Brooklyn

Chappelle (pictured) joked about the incident and said he spoke with Lee following the attack, claiming that Lee had pulled the stunt to raise awareness about gentrification in Brooklyn 

The 23-year-old was taken into custody at the event, then was taken to the hospital. He is now in jail

The 23-year-old was taken into custody at the event, then was taken to the hospital. He is now in jail

The 23-year-old was taken into custody at the event, then was taken to the hospital. He is now in jail 

This is the weapon Lee had when he tried and attack Chappelle on stage

This is the weapon Lee had when he tried and attack Chappelle on stage

Lee faces only misdemeanor charges over the attack after woke Los Angeles District Attorney George Gascon said he would not pursue felony charges against him.

Gascon’s office – which is famously in favor of low-or-no-cash-bonds – chose not to pursue the most serious line of punishment over the concealed weapon. 

Instead, they have referred the case to the LA City Attorney Mike Feuer,  recommending a misdemeanor charge because ‘the evidence as presented did not constitute felony conduct,’ according to ABC.

When announcing the charges on Thursday, Los Angeles City Attorney Mike Feuer  seemed to throw shade at the DA, saying ‘My office takes protecting public safety extremely seriously.’ 

Los Angeles District Attorney George Gascon (pictured) failed not pursue felony charges against Lee, who now only faces misdemeanor charges for the attack on Chappelle

Los Angeles District Attorney George Gascon (pictured) failed not pursue felony charges against Lee, who now only faces misdemeanor charges for the attack on Chappelle 

Gascon has been vocal about his belief that the criminal justice system needs to focus more on intervention and rehabilitation, blasting ‘tough on crime’ policies as racist and a failure.

And following his first 100 days in office, he touted the changes he has made to the city’s justice system – including limiting the use of sentencing enhancements.

The California penal code has more than 100 enhancements that could add time to a convict’s sentence depending on the situation, most of which date back to when California was facing soaring crime in the 1980s and 1990s.

But under Gascon’s reign, the use of those enhancements have been greatly reduced, with the Los Angeles County District Attorney’s Office 5,138 enhancements during his first three months – a 71 percent drop when compared to the same time the year before. 

His first three months also saw prosecutors filing only 106 gun enhancements – an 85 percent decrease. 

Gascon also barred prosecutors from charging juveniles as adults, regardless of the severity of their alleged crimes. 

***
Read more at DailyMail.co.uk