After being attacked on stage at the Hollywood Bowl last week during his performance at the Netflix is a Joke festival, comedian Dave Chappelle is calling on Los Angeles District Attorney George Gascón to file felony charges in the case.
“We request that DA Gascón reconsider, correct this mistake and charge this as a felony,” Chappelle’s lawyer Gabriel Colwell told Rolling Stone.
“This is what Mr. Chappelle wants. Mr. Chappelle wants this case charged as a felony.” He added that it’s not just about his client. “Entertainers in Los Angeles need to know that the justice system will protect them on stage.”
According to reports, Isaiah Lee, 23, rushed Chappelle during the festival armed with a spring-loaded knife installed in a firearm shell.
In a statement, the Los Angeles District Attorney said the onstage attack didn’t qualify as a felony and referred the case to the city attorney, according to Boundingintocomics.com. The site notes that 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 makeshift weapon when he rushed the comedian, instead only reaching for it after it had been knocked out of his waistband backstage and that his actions failed to meet said felony conduct standards.
Lee faces misdemeanor charges of “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.” He has pleaded not guilty. He is represented by a public defender who said that Lee suffered a “broken arm and significant facial injuries” in the melee that occurred after he rushed the stage. His brother said that he has taken mental health medication and has experienced homelessness.
However, Chappelle’s attorney stressed the need for justice, telling Rolling Stone, “Ten thousand people saw Dave Chappelle assaulted on stage at the Hollywood Bowl last Tuesday night, and the assailant had a deadly weapon on him. The fact that this isn’t charged as a felony case by the DA is insane.”