Los Angeles County District Attorney George Gascón is defending his decision not to press felony charges against a mentally ill homeless man who attacked comedian Dave Chappelle on stage last week.
Mr. Gascón told reporters Tuesday that “a substantial level of misinformation and misunderstanding” had arisen about 23-year-old Isaiah Lee’s attack on Mr. Chappelle during the “Netflix Is a Joke” festival at the Hollywood Bowl.
“Mr. Lee was not holding a weapon when he rushed Mr. Chappelle and we can see that by the video,” the prosecutor said. “And we also know that from interviews with witnesses, security quickly separated the two men and Mr. Chappelle was not injured.”
The DA said he agreed with the L.A. city attorney’s jurisdiction to press misdemeanor charges in the case. He added that the folding knife security guards found on Mr. Lee “was always folded” throughout the incident.
While Mr. Lee “needs to be held accountable for his behavior,” Mr. Gascón said that the attack “under California law did not, and I repeat, did not amount to felony conduct.”
Gabriel Colwell, Mr. Chappelle’s attorney, said Friday that the 48-year-old comedian believes it’s a “travesty of justice” that Mr. Gascón will not press felony charges.
“Entertainers in LA need to know this is a justice system that will protect them,” Mr. Colwell said in a statement. “There is no question here that when someone is violently assaulted by another in possession of a deadly weapon that it should be charged as a felony.”
On Tuesday, a judge denied Mr. Lee’s request for a bail reduction. He is being held in jail with bail set at $30,000.
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