The man who assaulted Dave Chappelle on stage at a Los Angeles comedy show is now facing attempted murder charges after the confrontation led Los Angeles officials to find out he was the suspect of another crime.
Isaiah Lee, 23, was charged Thursday with attempted murder for allegedly stabbing his roommate in December at a “transitional housing scheme” generally reserved for the homeless.
District Attorney George Gascon’s office credits the publicity surrounding Lee’s attack on Chappelle with helping the victim identify his alleged attacker.
“The publicity generated by the attack on Mr Chappelle helped police solve this crime,” Gascón said in a statement. “The incident that occurred at the Hollywood Bowl was a misdemeanor and was properly referred to the prosecutor. Because of the nature and severity of the December attack, Mr. Lee now faces a felony charge, which my office will prosecute.’
Lee pleaded not guilty to the stabbing. He is scheduled to return to court on June 2.
Isaiah Lee, 23, has been charged with attempted murder after allegedly stabbing his roommate to death in December
Lee had previously allegedly jumped onto the stage and attempted to attack Dave Chappelle, who was able to dodge his attacker and avoid injury. Lee had a knife and a replica gun with him
According to Gascon, Lee stabbed his roommate during a fight at a “transitional apartment,” ABC7 reported. The victim had reported the attack to police, but was initially unable to identify Lee as the perpetrator.
Lee initially pleaded not guilty to four counts of misdemeanor at his indictment Friday, during which the Los Angeles Attorney’s Office declined to press charges of felony in the Chappelle incident.
He faces just 18 months in prison if convicted on those charges.
Lee ran onto the Hollywood Bowl stage with a knife hidden in a replica gun as he tried to attack Chappelle, 48.
The comedian was able to dodge Lee and was unharmed. The attacker was arrested at the scene and taken to hospital with a broken arm.
Lee, 23, was slapped with four offenses, including assault, possession of a weapon with intent to attack, unauthorized access to the stage area during a performance, and committing an act that delays the event or disturbs the performer. If convicted, he faces 18 months in prison.
Lee suffered a broken arm after security forces arrested him and removed him from the stage
At Friday’s court hearing, Lee’s attorney said the man never drew his concealed gun as he stormed the stage.
Lee is expected in court for a pre-trial hearing on Friday, May 20.
Chappelle has yet to publicly respond to the decision, but during a comedy show Thursday night, the comedian revealed he spoke to the attacker.
Chappelle said he asked police if he could speak to Lee, who stormed onto the stage holding a replica gun with a knife attached. Police gave him access to a room where he was being held.
“I had to talk to him,” Chappelle told his audience in the 70-seat secret room in LA’s Comedy Store’s Belly Room, according to The Hollywood Reporter Thursday night.
Chappelle said the attack was due to Lee’s Brooklyn grandmother being evicted from her neighborhood for gentrification, and the stunt was intended to draw attention to the issue.
He joked about the situation alongside fellow comedian Chris Rock, who was punched by Will Smith during the Oscars, saying: “At least you got punched by someone in good standing! I was hit by a homeless man with leaves in his hair.’
Chappelle also joked that his attacker was a transgender man, a reference to his Netflix special The Closure, which sparked anger over his gags about transgender people and his support for JK Rowling.
The author was castigated for insisting that transgender women should not be allowed access to some same-sex spaces, including dressing rooms and women’s prisons, for security reasons.
Shortly after the incident, Chapelle said through a representative that he didn’t want the incident to “overshadow” a great event, referring to his Netflix comedy show.
“Dave Chappelle celebrated four nights of comedy and music and broke record-breaking sales for a comedian at the Hollywood Bowl … and he refuses to let last night’s incident overshadow the magic of this historic moment.”
“As unfortunate and troubling as the incident was, Chappelle went ahead with the show,” his rep said.
Netflix and the Hollywood Bowl said they are cooperating with the police investigation into the incident.
The 23-year-old was taken into custody at the event and then taken to the hospital. He’s in prison now
This is the weapon Lee had when he tried to attack Chappelle on stage
Lee faces only a misdemeanor charge in the assault after Los Angeles District Attorney George Gascon said he would not pursue felony charges against him.
Gascon’s office – which is known to be pro-liability bonds – chose not to pursue the most serious hidden-arms penalty.
Instead, they referred the case to LA City Attorney Mike Feuer and recommended a misdemeanor charge because “the evidence presented does not establish criminal conduct,” according to ABC.
In announcing the indictments Thursday, Los Angeles District Attorney Mike Feuer appeared to shadow prosecutors by saying, “My office takes protecting the public safety extremely seriously.”
Los Angeles District Attorney George Gascon (pictured) has failed to file felony charges against Lee, who now faces only misdemeanor charges of assaulting Chappelle
Lee, 23, was slapped with four offenses, including assault, possession of a weapon with intent to attack, unauthorized access to the stage area during a performance, and committing an act that delays the event or disturbs the performer. If convicted, he faces 18 months in prison and a $4,000 fine.
If convicted, however, he can get away with a far lesser sentence, which could take the form of treatment or some type of lesson.
Lee appeared in court with a bandaged arm in a sling as he pleaded not guilty. He is currently being held on $30,000 bail.
A judge also ordered Lee to stay at least 100 yards from Chapelle, any venue he performs at, and his home, and 100 yards from the Hollywood Bowl.