LOS ANGELES (CNS) – A judge Thursday rejected the defense’s request for a diversion program that could have eventually resulted in the dismissal of charges against the man accused of attacking comedian Dave Chappelle on stage at the Hollywood Bowl in May.
Superior Court Judge Armenui Amy Ashvanian cited a string of prior arrests of Isaiah Lee and his conduct after his arrest for the alleged May 3 attack on Chappelle, ruling that the 24-year-old defendant is “not a suitable candidate for judicial diversion.”
Lee’s attorney, Alexander Kirkpatrick, told the judge that his client has been homeless since he was about 18 and has struggled with mental illness, and called Lee’s actions “rash” and “impulsive.” He noted that he did not want to “minimize the crime” and that Lee would remain in custody even if he was granted diversion because he is awaiting trial separately in a case in which he is charged with trying to kill his roommate.
Deputy City Attorney Patricia Rosman objected to the defense’s request for the diversion program, saying that Lee “made a very conscious decision to do what he did” and that “this is not the type of person or the type of situation” for which that type of diversion program is intended.
Lee is charged with one misdemeanor count each of 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 an event or interferes with a performer.
Authorities said Lee rushed the stage at the Bowl around 10:45 p.m. May 3 while Chappelle was performing as part of the Netflix Is A Joke Festival. Online video showed Chappelle being thrown to the ground by the suspect, prompting the venue’s security staff and Chappelle’s crew to rush on stage to subdue the assailant. Among those running to protect Chappelle was actor/comedian Jamie Foxx.
The suspect tried to scramble backstage after the attack, but he was forcefully subdued by security. Subsequent footage showed the bloodied assailant with facial bruises and a seemingly broken arm being placed on a gurney and taken away in an ambulance.
Chappelle was not injured and he continued to perform.
Chappelle, during a subsequent performance at the Comedy Store in Hollywood, told the crowd he was able to speak to the attacker before he was taken away by paramedics. The comedian said the suspect claimed to have carried out the attack to raise awareness of the plight of his grandmother in Brooklyn, who was displaced from her home due to “gentrification.”
But Lee told the New York Post in a jailhouse interview that he was triggered by the comedian’s jokes about transgender and homeless people.
Lee remains behind bars while awaiting a pretrial hearing Nov. 7.
He is due back in a downtown Los Angeles courtroom next Tuesday in the separate case, in which he was ordered Sept. 16 to stand trial on an attempted murder charge for allegedly stabbing his roommate at a transitional housing apartment last December.
Lee was charged with the felony count May 18 in connection with the alleged attack on Dijon Washington, just under two weeks after he was charged by the Los Angeles City Attorney’s Office with four misdemeanor counts stemming from the alleged attack on Chappelle.
Lee’s former roommate testified that he “needed to have my small and large intestine sewn back up” after the stabbing last Dec. 2, saying he spent about seven to eight days in the hospital.
Los Angeles County District Attorney George Gascón was criticized by Chappelle’s attorney for declining to file any felony charges involving the alleged attack on Chappelle, but he maintained that what happened at the Hollywood Bowl was “misdemeanor conduct and rightfully referred to the City Attorney’s Office.”
The county’s top prosecutor subsequently said “the publicity generated by the attack on Mr. Chappelle helped police solve” the case involving the stabbing of Lee’s roommate, which had previously been reported to police.