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Suspect pleads not guilty to Dave Chappelle Hollywood Bowl attack

New information released about Dave Chappelle's attack suspect as he pleads not guilty to charges
New information released about Dave Chappelle's attack suspect as he pleads not guilty to charges 02:59

A 23-year-old man accused of tackling comedian Dave Chappelle while he was onstage performing at the Hollywood Bowl earlier this week has pleaded not guilty to misdemeanor charges.

Isaiah Lee made his first appearance Friday morning in front of a judge in an L.A. County Superior courtroom in downtown L.A. He pleaded not guilty to one misdemeanor count each of 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.

The judge denied a request that he be released on his own recognizance. Lee is being held on $30,000 bail. 

His public defender argued that he needs to be released from jail in order to access mental health services and be placed in public housing. They also argued that since Lee was the only member of the incident to sustain injuries, and not Chappelle, that he should be released with no bail. 

The judge also ordered Lee to remain at least 100 yards away from Chappelle.

If Lee is found guilty, he faces a maximum sentence of 18 months in jail.

CBS reporters spoke with Chappelle's attorney Gabriel Colwell on Friday afternoon, noting that the comedian is not pleased with how the case has been handled thus far. 

"Mr. Chappelle is very upset that felony charges have not been filed," Colwell said. "As you know, 10,000 people saw Mr. Chappelle assaulted on stage at the Hollywood Bowl Tuesday night, and the assailant had a deadly weapon in his possession."

This comes after the L.A. County District Attorney's Office reported Thursday that it would not bring felony charges against Lee, and instead referred the case to the L.A. City Attorney's Office.

The declination report from the County DA's Office detailed how, "slow motion review of video footage of the incident revealed that the suspect did not have the weapon in his hand at the time he rushed and tackled victim Chappelle," and that "a security guard, for instance, described that after the suspect ran backstage, the suspect reached for his waistband," noting how the knife doesn't qualify as either a dirk or a dagger, but rather a "folding knife in the retracted position."

They concluded with, "Felony assault charges do not appear to be warranted because of the nature of the unarmed assault, the lack of injuries and because no weapon was actually used in the assault."

The attack occurred late Tuesday night. 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.  

 A man later identified by authorities as Lee rushed the stage and tackled Chappelle, who fell to the ground.

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

Chappelle was not seriously hurt. Lee was taken to a hospital before being booked on suspicion of assault with a deadly weapon. Video from the scene showed Lee on a stretcher. His arm appeared to be dislocated and his face battered. 

A report from The Hollywood Reporter disclosed that Chappelle convinced the security team at The Hollywood Bowl to let him speak with Lee moments after the attack occurred. The report claims that "Chappelle said (Lee) appeared to him to be mentally ill — offered a story about his grandmother from Brooklyn, who had been forced out of her neighborhood by gentrification. The attack was meant to draw attention to her plight."

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

Prosecutors also commented on the song in the declination report, stating that "none of the lyrics, tone or language of the song suggested any threats or hatred towards the victim Dave Chappelle."

Lee's brother spoke with Rolling Stone Magazine, where he explained that his brother has been homeless off-and-on since he was 11 years old, clarifying that he has a "history of mental health issues," and that he takes medicine. 

He continued to note how, "he's not the type to just lash out," and that he might have missed out on taking his prescription.

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.

Fellow comedians have reacted accordingly, boosting security at shows in the surrounding area, including Gabriel Iglesias who has a pair of shows on back-to-back nights at Dodger Stadium on Friday and Saturday. 

The Hollywood Bowl will host their first comedy show since the attack on Tuesday, when John Mulaney makes his scheduled appearance as part of the Netflix Is A Joke Fest. 

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