Man accused of tackling comedian Dave Chappelle onstage is charged with assault

LOS ANGELES, May 4 (Reuters) – The man accused of tackling comedian Dave Chappelle onstage during a performance at the Hollywood Bowl in Los Angeles has been charged Wednesday with aggravated assault with a deadly weapon.

The attack on Chappelle, 48, took place Tuesday night during a sold-out performance by the Emmy-winning entertainer as part of an 11-day “Netflix is ​​a Joke” festival, featuring many of the leading names in stand-up comedy.

A Los Angeles Police Department spokesman said the suspect was in possession of a replica pistol with a knife when he attacked Chappelle.

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A short time after the attack, Chappelle was joined onstage by fellow comedian Chris Rock, who grabbed the mic and quipped, “Was that Will Smith?” — a reference to his own experience when he was punched by the Hollywood star during the live broadcast of the Oscars on March 27.

Chappelle appeared to emerge from Tuesday’s attack unscathed and went on with the show, joking about the incident and what happened to the suspect, who was chased onto the stage by security personnel.

Chappelle said he was lucky that his attacker was “clumsy,” adding: “He gets stomped in the back there,” according to video footage of the altercation posted online by the celebrity news website TMZ.com.

Photos of the suspect subsequently seated on an ambulance stretcher showed his face visibly bruised and his right arm apparently dislocated or broken.

Police later identified him as 23-year-old Isaiah Lee, who was held in prison on $30,000 bail after being charged.

According to online prison records, no court hearing was scheduled for Lee.

There was no word from authorities about a motive for the attack, which, according to The Los Angeles Times, unfolded after a routine in which Chappelle, dressed in a suit, talked about comedians who are more concerned with personal safety these days and introduced his own security guard. on the stage.

Chappelle was criticized last year for material presented in his Netflix comedy special “The Closer,” which has been labeled by some in the LGBTQ community as mocking transgender people. Supporters of the comedian saw the material in question as a cry against ‘cancel culture’. read more

The comedian himself hinted at the controversy from the stage shortly after being tackled on Tuesday, quipped, “It was a trans man,” which sparked laughter from the crowd.

The attack happened when the comedian, headlining a multi-act show billed as “Dave Chappelle and Friends,” acknowledged a producer working in the show’s DJ booth.

Video of the incident shows the suspect storming the stage, apparently from the audience, and launching his upper body into Chappelle, slamming his shoulder against the comedian’s ribs and chest.

Both men fell to the ground before scrambling to their feet, and the suspect darted away, briefly chased by Chappelle at first. He dodged a swarm of people for seconds before they attacked him from the back of the stage.

The incident sparked direct comparisons to the Oscar night clash between Smith and Rock, an unprecedented incident during the global televised event that raised concerns that other performers could face copycat attacks. read more

“Unfortunate and disturbing as the incident was, Chappelle went ahead with the show,” his spokesperson, Carla Sims, said in a statement Wednesday, crediting Rock and fellow comedian actor Jamie Foxx for helping “crowd the crowd.” to calm down”.

After the attack, she said Chappelle introduced the show’s final act, the hip-hop musical duo Black Star. Other comedians on the program included Earthquake, Leslie Jones, Jeff Ross, Sebastian, Jon Stewart and Michelle Wolf.

Chappelle was “fully cooperating with the active police investigation into this incident,” Sims said.

A representative from the Hollywood Bowl, one of the most famous night spots in Los Angeles, told Reuters the incident was under investigation and declined to comment further.

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Reporting by Steve Gorman and Dan Whitcomb in Los Angeles; Additional reporting by Brendan O’Brien in Chicago, and Akriti Sharma and Shivam Patel in Bengaluru; Editing by Will Dunham, Howard Goller and Richard Pullin

Our Standards: The Thomson Reuters Trust Principles.

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