The man accused of storming a stage and tackling Dave Chappelle during a performance at the Hollywood Bowl was charged with four misdemeanor crimes Thursday after the Los Angeles District Attorney said the onstage attack didn’t quality as a felony and referred the case to the City Attorney.
Isaiah Lee, 23, is now facing one misdemeanor count each of battery, possessing a deadly weapon with intent to assault, unlawfully crossing from a spectator area onto a stage at a theatrical event and interfering with or delaying such an event with unlawful conduct. The top two counts carry maximum sentences of up to six months in county jail.
“What should have been an evening of laughter at the Hollywood Bowl this past Tuesday night was suddenly interrupted when suspect Isaiah Lee allegedly charged onto the stage and tackled comedian Dave Chappelle,” City Attorney Mike Feuer said in a video statement. “This alleged attack has got to have consequences.”
The prosecutor, who’s running for the mayor’s office, says his office “takes protecting public safety extremely seriously” and will “vigorously prosecute this case.”
Lee’s case was called in a Los Angeles courtroom Thursday afternoon, but he was a medical miss-out because he was still awaiting the results of a Covid test, the judge said. His arraignment is now set for Friday. A public defender declined to comment after telling the judge her office would seek appointment to represent Lee.
“After reviewing the evidence, prosecutors determined that while criminal conduct occurred, the evidence as presented did not constitute felony conduct,” DA spokesman Greg Risling said in a statement, declining to elaborate because the case “remains open and under investigation.”
Lee was booked on suspicion of felony assault with a deadly weapon after he jumped onstage and assaulted Chappelle around 10:40 p.m. local time on Tuesday toward the end of the comedian’s performance at the Netflix Is a Joke festival, police said.
Lee’s older brother Aaron Lee, 31, told Rolling Stone in an exclusive interview Wednesday that his brother has struggled with mental health and housing instability since he moved to California from New York when he was around 11 years old.
“I don’t have anything negative to say about Isaiah. He’s a performing artist who tries to stay as positive as possible. He does have a history of mental health issues. He does take medicine. Maybe he missed out on taking his prescription. But he’s not the type to just lash out. I don’t understand,” Aaron Lee said.
Police said Isaiah Lee had “what appeared to be a handgun but was later discovered to be a replica, in his hand,” at the time of the alleged assault. They released photos showing the recovered weapon with and without its blade extended.
After security and bystanders “took action and removed Lee” from the stage, he was detained, transported to a local hospital for injuries sustained during the altercation, and ultimately booked on suspicion of assault with a deadly weapon, LAPD said.
A spokesperson for Chappelle said the comedian was “fully cooperating” with the police investigation.
“As unfortunate and unsettling as the incident was, Chappelle went on with the show. Jamie Foxx and Chris Rock helped calm the crowd with humor before Chappelle introduced the last and featured musical guests for the evening, hip-hop artists Yasiin Bey and Talib Kweli, a.k.a. Black Star,” the spokesperson said.
It wasn’t immediately clear how the suspect got close enough to the stage to attack or whether he smuggled the replica gun through security checkpoints that included metal detectors. Contemporary Services Corporation is the contractor who handles security inside the venue. An official listed on the CSC website as overseeing the Hollywood Bowl did not respond to an email seeking comment Thursday. CSC also is one of the security firms being sued over the deadly Astroworld festival in Houston that left 10 people dead.