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No felony charges for man who attacked Dave Chappelle at Hollywood Bowl

City attorney charges Dave Chappelle's attacker with four misdemeanors
City attorney charges Dave Chappelle's attacker with four misdemeanors 03:28

The man accused of attacking Dave Chappelle onstage at the Hollywood Bowl Tuesday night, armed with a knife, will not face felony charges.

The Los Angeles County District Attorney's Office said Thursday that it will not pursue felony charges against 23-year-old Isaiah Lee.

The case has instead been referred to the L.A. City Attorney's Office for possible misdemeanor charges, the DA's office said. 

"After reviewing the evidence, prosecutors determined that while criminal conduct occurred, the evidence as presented did not constitute felony conduct," the DA's office said in a statement. "The District Attorney's Office does not prosecute misdemeanor crimes within the city of Los Angeles."  

Later Thursday, the City Attorney announced Lee was charged with battery, possession of a weapon with intent to assault, unauthorized access to the stage area during performance and commission of an act that delays the event or interferes with the performer.

If Lee is found guilty of these four misdemeanors he could face up to 1.5 years in prison.

At about 10:40 p.m. Tuesday, a man later identified as Lee stormed the stage and tackled Chappelle, who fell to the ground.

Security immediately swarmed the suspect, chased him behind the stage and arrested him. The man was armed with a replica handgun which contained a knife blade, Los Angeles police said. Police later released a photo of the weapon. 

Dave Chappelle attacked by man with knife during Hollywood Bowl show
A replica handgun containing a knife blade which a suspect was allegedly carrying when he attacked comedian Dave Chappelle onstage at the Hollywood Bowl on May 3, 2022.  (LAPD)

Chappelle was not seriously hurt. 

Brianna Sacks, a reporter for BuzzFeed who was at the event, told CBSLA that the 48-year-old Chappelle had finished his stand-up set and returned to the stage to introduce rappers Yasiin Bey and Talib Kweli when the attack occurred.  

"The guy got to the back of the stage and they were kicking him and beating him up, it seemed like for a good amount of time," Sacks said. "Chappelle was definitely shocked and was making jokes about it as it was going on. It was very chaotic, people were pretty stunned."   

Police said Lee was taken to a hospital before being booked on suspicion of assault with a deadly weapon. Sacks took a video of Lee on a stretcher, in which people can be heard booing him as he is loaded into an ambulance. His arm appeared to be dislocated and his face battered. 

Lee was still in custody on $30,000 bail Thursday, according to L.A. County Sheriff's Department inmate records. He was being held at the Inmate Reception Center on Bauchet Street in Chinatown. 

There was no word on a motive. Lee was an aspiring rapper who had posted a song to YouTube referencing Chappelle.

Comedian Michael Blackson, who was at the Bowl and witnessed the attack, speculated that the incident may have been a publicity stunt.

"We're in a crowd-chasing era, this was crowd-chasing, pretty much, people looking for ways to get famous," Blackson told CBSLA.

Following the attack, Chappelle, who was not seriously hurt, again returned to the stage with several comedians, including Chris Rock. Video showed Rock joking to Chappelle, "Was that Will Smith?", in reference to the actor slapping Rock on stage at the Oscars back in March at the nearby Dolby Theatre.  

Last October, Chappelle drew sharp criticism for "The Closer," a stand-up special released on Netflix in which he made a series of transphobic remarks. On Tuesday night, he even told the crowd he had been forced to hire more security since then.   

Tuesday's event, "Dave Chappelle and Friends," was part of the Netflix Is A Joke festival. Chappelle performed at the Bowl several times over the past week with comedians such as Bill Burr and Jeff Ross. 

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