Suspect in the Dave Chappelle Attack Pleads Not Guilty to Misdemeanor Charges

Police say 23-year-old Isaiah Lee had a replica gun equipped with a knife blade when he rushed the Hollywood Bowl stage and tackled comedian Dave Chappelle. Here are the charges he faces.

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A 23-year-old Los Angeles man accused of rushing onto the Hollywood Bowl stage and tackling comedian Dave Chappelle during a performance at the Hollywood Bowl was in court Friday to face misdemeanor charges in the attack.

During the initial court appearance in the Los Angeles courtroom, Isaiah Lee pleaded not guilty and was ordered by a judge to stay 100 yards away from Chappelle, any venue where he is performing and from his residences. He also was ordered to stay 100 yards away from the Hollywood Bowl.

Lee appeared in court with his right arm in a sling. An attorney representing him Friday said he suffered a broken arm and facial injuries during an on-stage struggle with members of the security team and others who intervened after Chappelle was tackled.

Isaiah Lee, 23, appears in court Friday May 6, 2022 on misdemeanor charges in the attack on Dave Chappelle at the Hollywood Bowl.

Photos taken after the Hollywood Bowl incident showed Lee on a stretcher with his arm at an odd angle.

Lee's bond was set Friday at $30,000. A bail review hearing was set for next week. A pretrial hearing was set for later this month.

Lee was detained by security members and arrested by Los Angeles police after the attack during Chappelle's standup performance Tuesday night at the Netflix Is a Joke comedy festival. He was arrested by police, who said he had a replica gun equipped with a knife blade, on suspicion of felony assault with a deadly weapon.

At Friday's hearing, the attorney representing Lee said he did not brandish the weapon at any time.

Developments in the criminal case against Lee unfolded quickly Thursday when the Los Angeles County District Attorney declined to file felony charges against Lee and referred the case to the city attorney's office for consideration of lesser misdemeanor charges. The district attorney's office does not prosecute misdemeanor criminal cases.

Here's what we know about the charges against the suspect.

What are the charges against the suspect in the Dave Chappelle attack?

In a news release Thursday, City Attorney Mike Feuer said he is charging Isaiah Lee with battery, possession of a weapon with intent to assault, unauthorized access to the stage area during a performance and commission of an act that delays the event or interferes with a performer, officials said.

Here are the misdemeanor charges against the suspect in the Dave Chappelle attack.

"This alleged attack has got to have consequences,'' Feuer, who is running for mayor, said in a video statement announcing the charges. "My office takes protecting public safety extremely seriously and we are going to vigorously prosecute this case."

The announcement came after LA County prosecutors declined to charge Lee with any felony conduct.

If convicted of all counts, Lee could face up to 18 months in county jail and/or up to $4,000 in fines, according to the Los Angeles City Attorney's Office.

Why was the Dave Chappelle attack suspect not charged with a felony?

Los Angeles County prosecutors said the evidence against Lee did not rise to the level of felony conduct.

The district attorney's office issued the following statement about its decision.

"The Los Angeles County District Attorney’s Office has referred the case to the Los Angeles City Attorney’s Office for misdemeanor filing consideration," an office spokesman said Thursday. "After reviewing the evidence, prosecutors determined that while criminal conduct occurred, the evidence as presented did not constitute felony conduct. The District Attorney’s Office does not prosecute misdemeanor crimes within the city of Los Angeles."

Chappelle was not injured after the audience member rushed the stage and tackled him to the ground. Police released a photo of the replica gun equipped with a retractable knife blade that they say was in Lee's possession at the time.

The district attorney's office said a slow-motion review of the video of the attack showed the suspect did not have the weapon in his hand at the time he rushed toward Chappelle.

"Prosecutors have concluded he didn't actually use the gun," said NBC4 legal analyst Royal Oakes. "That's the thing that saves him from the felony charge.

"State law says it's only a felony assault with deadly weapon if you, No. 1 used the weapon and No. 2 the victim perceives a risk to his or her life.

Who is the man accused of attacking Dave Chappelle?

Police identified the suspect as 23-year-old Isaiah Lee.

He is being held on $30,000 bond. The LAPD said Lee is a Los Angeles resident.

The suspect was hospitalized due to injuries sustained in the altercation with security team members, which was captured in several videos by audience members. Photos taken after the altercation showed his arm bent at an odd angle.

An attorney representing Lee at his first court appearance said he suffered a broken arm and facial injuries in the scuffle.

TMZ reported that Lee is a self-proclaimed rapper. A song on his 2020 album is titled "Dave Chapelle" on Spotify. Those details have not been confirmed by NBCLA.

What kind of weapon did police find after the Dave Chappelle attack?

The weapon that police said was recovered from Lee turned out to be a replica handgun with a knife blade that can be ejected. His attorney said in court Friday that he never brandished the weapon.

"The suspect produced what was later discovered to be a replica handgun and pointed the item at the victim," the LAPD said in a statement. "Hollywood Bowl uniformed security officers, who witnessed the incident, engaged the suspect and removed him from the victim and took him into custody."

It was unclear how he was able to carry the weapon, photos of which were released by the LAPD, into the venue.

The Los Angeles Philharmonic, which manages events for the Hollywood Bowl, released a statement Wednesday afternoon.

"The safety of our artists, visitors and staff is the LA Phil's top priority," the statement read. "The incident that occurred at the Hollywood Bowl on May 3, 2022, remains an active investigation, and we are unable to comment further at this time. Please refer additional questions to the LAPD."

Why was Dave Chappelle attacked?

That's not yet clear.

A Wednesday police statement provided an account of the attack, but gave no indication of whether investigators had determined the motive.

TMZ reported Friday that Chappelle said on stage at the Comedy Store Thursday that he spoke to the man after the attack. Chappelle said Lee told him he was trying to get attention for a situation involving his grandmother, TMZ reported.

NBCLA has not confirmed the report.

Chappelle's jokes about increased security came before the man rushed the stage.

Chappelle's spokesperson released a statement Wednesday.

"The performances by Chappelle at the Hollywood Bowl were epic and record-breaking and he refuses to allow last night’s incident to overshadow the magic of this historic moment," the spokesperson told NBC News in a statement. "As unfortunate and unsettling as the incident was, Chappelle went on with the show."

Netflix issued a statement saying, "We care deeply about the safety of creators and we strongly defend the right of stand-up comedians to perform on stage without fear of violence.''

Jamie Foxx was nearby during the attack, and Chappelle thanked him for responding. After the unsettling incident, comedian Chris Rock joined Chappelle on stage and quipped, "Was that Will Smith?"

Chappelle was one of a list of comedians performing at the Hollywood Bowl amphitheater as part of the Netflix Is a Joke: The Festival, taking place from April 28 to May 8.

Other comedians scheduled to perform at the festival include Leslie Jones and Jon Stewart, in addition to Rock.

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