A 23-year-old man accused of attacking comedian Dave Chappelle during a performance has been charged with four misdemeanour criminal counts after the city’s district attorney declined to bring more serious charges.
Isaiah Lee, who was subdued after tackling Chappelle, 48, to the stage floor on Tuesday evening, was charged by the Los Angeles City Attorney’s Office with battery, possession of a weapon with intent to assault and two other misdemeanour counts.
“This alleged attack has got to have consequences,” City Attorney Mike Feuer said in a videotaped message on Thursday.
Feuer announced the misdemeanour charges just hours after the city’s top prosecutor, District Attorney George Gascon, declined to prosecute Lee.
A spokesman for Gascon said a review of the evidence did not show felony conduct.
Under California law a misdemeanour carries a maximum sentence of one year in county jail. In Los Angeles, Feuer’s office prosecutes misdemeanours while the district attorney is responsible for felony cases.
Police say Chappelle was performing at the Hollywood Bowl when Lee rushed at the comedian, knocking him to the ground. Lee was subdued near the back of the stage as he sought to flee.
Chappelle returned to the stage after a short break and went on with the show, ad-libbing jokes about the incident. He did not appear to be injured.
The performer’s representatives said on Wednesday that he was fully co-operating with the police investigation.
“As unfortunate and unsettling as the incident was, Chappelle went on with the show,” his spokeswoman Carla Sims said in a statement on Wednesday, crediting Chris Rock and fellow comedian-actor Jamie Foxx with helping to “calm the crowd”.
The attack sparked comparisons to a bizarre incident during the Academy Awards ceremony in March at which actor Will Smith smacked comic Chris Rock onstage, apparently over a joke about his wife, Jada Pinkett Smith
Rock joined Chappelle onstage a short time after the attack, took the microphone and quipped, “Was that Will Smith?”