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Just days after Los Angeles District Attorney George Gascón’s office declined to file a felony charge against Dave Chappelle’s alleged attacker, Isaiah Lee, Gascón stood before members of the media to “clear up what he described as “a substantial level of misinformation and misunderstanding regarding the Dave Chappelle case.”
“In the city of Los Angeles, as is the case with nine other cities in the county, which represent about 50 percent of the county’s population, we have municipal prosecutors who deal with misdemeanors,” Gascón said Tuesday. “They have jurisdiction for tort prosecutions in those jurisdictions, as it is with the city of LA being the largest with a population of nearly 4 million.”
Gascón went on to explain that Chappelle’s case was handled and reviewed by “one of our deputies from our filing team” and said he agreed with the “deputy’s right decision when it determined that the conduct in this particular instance was tortious conduct.”
He added that while he believes the 23-year-old Lee “should be held accountable for his behavior,” his office ultimately disagreed that Chappelle’s tackle by Lee onstage at the Hollywood Bowl, “under California law, and I repeat, did not constitute criminal conduct.”
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Gascón, who has been criticized for being soft on crime since being elected district attorney in 2020, not only doubled down on his office’s recommendation to refer the case to the LA City prosecutor, but explained a multitude of reasons why Lee should’ not be charged with a crime – despite a wave of pressure to take a stand against similar behavior by charging Lee accordingly. He told reporters on Tuesday that he “can’t make up” charges that don’t justify them.
“Mr. Lee was not holding a gun when he rushed Mr. Chappelle and we can see that on the video,” Gascón told members of the media. “And we also know that based on interviews with witnesses, security quickly separated the two men and Mr. Chappelle was uninjured.”
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“Later in the incident, when Mr. Lee was taken into custody, security retrieved a folding knife. The blade was folded the entire time while in Mr. Lee’s possession” , insisted the lawyer before repeating the sentiment. “And I’ll say it again – during the time that Mr. Lee was in possession of this folding knife, the blade was always bent.”
He maintained that his office tried to find other charges they could slam Lee with under California law, including the felony of carrying a dagger or dagger and even “went a little further away and we looked to see if there was any harassing behavior where we could charge this individual as harassment regarding Mr. Chappelle” but digressed since “the blade was not – I repeat – not was not exposed and locked, she is inadmissible under state law under the section “and found no evidence” that Lee stalked Chappelle prior to the alleged brazen attack.
“We also assessed, under California law, whether we could charge Mr. [Lee] for a crime of carrying a dagger or dagger. However, we also went further and, again, found no evidence that this is the case,” Gascón said. stock. And by the way, we do it thousands of times every year. And while it is true that Mr. Lee has committed criminal behavior and that he should be held accountable, accountability in this case, given his behavior, will be through prosecution by the LA attorney. City which has jurisdiction to deal with this case.
When asked if he had anything to do with the decision not to bring criminal charges against Lee, Gascón said he left the choice up to a sub-filer in his office.
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“That’s right. You have to remember that this office reviews over 100,000 cases a year,” he told reporters. “I think anyone who thinks I review every case in this office is out of touch. It’s a really big county, I have really good people on our filing team, and they’re well trained. , and she made the right decision.”
Elsewhere, during his press conference, Gascón appeared to lump the Chappelle incident together with the November 2021 Astroworld tragedy in Houston, Texas, which saw 10 people killed after thousands of fans went on a rampage, leaving many injured, trampled and in some cases rendered unconscious due to loss of oxygen.
According to Gascón, he reached out and spoke with a number of venues to coordinate a roundtable to do an analysis of what happened in Houston and Los Angeles so they could reevaluate the protocols.
“Increasingly, we have seen incidents that call into question the safety of our places of entertainment. Mr. Chappelle is only the most recent,” Gascón said. “On December 18 of last year at a music festival at the Banc de California (Stadium) we had Mr. Darrell Caldwell, who was murdered and in November 2021 we had 10 people dead in Houston during the Astroworld Music Festival.”
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The incident Gascón is referring to is the murder of Drakeo the Ruler, who was stabbed in the neck during the Once Upon A Time in LA festival at Banc of California Stadium.
Snoop Dogg would cancel his set at Exposition Park before the rest of the show was also closed.
Live Nation said in a statement at the time: “There was an altercation backstage at the pavement. Out of respect for those involved and in coordination with local authorities, the performers and organizers have decided not to move forward with the remaining sets, so the festival ended an hour early,” the Los Angeles Times reported.
“These incidents highlight the problem we have in our communities regarding the safety of entertainment venues,” Gascón said during his press conference on Tuesday. “All of us – artists, attendees and the rest of the community have the right to feel safe when attending these events. And we are fortunate in Los Angeles to actually be one of the capitals of the world. entertainment. We have music, we have comedy, we have all types of entertainment, and we have to make sure we do better.”
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Gascón said that due to the many entertainment options offered by the city, “I am convening a group of stakeholders that will include venues, event security, law enforcement and other stakeholders to discuss protocols to ensure that we improve safety in our local across the county and hopefully share what we learn from others across the country.”
“But I think it’s imperative that we do it because frankly I’m getting more and more worried that we could end up with an incident similar to what happened in Houston. And I want to make sure that we prevent this in our community,” Gascón added.
Meanwhile, LA City Attorney Mike Feuer hit Lee with the four misdemeanor felonies on Friday, which include battery, possession of a weapon with intent to assault, unauthorized access to the stage during a performance and the commission of an act that delays the event or interferes with the performer.
Chappelle’s attorney said at the time that the comedian was “upset” by Gascón’s office’s decision not to issue felony charges.
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“It’s a travesty of justice that DA [George] Gascòn is refusing to pursue this case as a felony,” Chappelle’s attorney, Gabriel Colwell, told the New York Post. “The city attorney, who filed the case, is doing their job, but DA Gascón should also do his job and charge this as a crime. .”
On Tuesday, Lee was denied a reduction in the $30,000 bond he is ordered to pay if he wants to be released from jail before his trial.