Gascón on Chappelle attacker: 'This was not felony conduct'

On the day Dave Chappelle’s alleged attacker was denied a bail reduction, Los Angeles County District Attorney George Gascón held a news conference to address security issues at concert venues and discuss his office's controversial decision announced last week that they would not charge the suspect with a felony.

Gascón said in this particular case, after looking at all circumstances, they analyzed it under California law and looked at a burden of proof. 

"Our deputy determined this was not felony conduct," he said. "I fully support her decision… she made the right decision when she determined that the conduct in this particular case was misdemeanor conduct." 

"Clearly, Mr. Lee needs to be held accountable for his behavior but his behavior under California law did not amount to felony conduct," he added.

Gascón said when 23-year-old Isaiah Lee rushed Chappelle onstage, Lee was not holding a weapon. He said surveillance video was reviewed and there was no evidence indicating Lee was in possession of a weapon. When Lee was taken into custody, security did recover a folding knife, he said. 

But because the blade was not exposed, it does not qualify under California law, Gascón said. 

Additionally, officials looked to see if Lee had exhibited stalking behavior, but no evidence pointed in that direction, Gascón said.

"Given the totality of circumstances, this case was referred to the LA city attorney, which was an appropriate course of action and by the way we do this thousands of times every year, and while it's true Lee committed criminal behavior, the place for accountability in this case given his behavior will be via prosecution by the LA city attorney who has the jurisdiction to handle this case," Gascón said. 

The DA added he is holding a roundtable with other officials to discuss safety measures to keep both performers and attendees safe at concert venues moving forward.

In an interview with Rolling Stone, Chapelle’s lawyer Gabriel Colwell said his client is displeased with the DA’s decision.

"This is what Mr. Chappelle wants. Mr. Chappelle wants this case charged as a felony… 10,000 people saw Dave Chappelle assaulted on stage at the Hollywood Bowl last Tuesday night, and the assailant had a deadly weapon on him. The fact that this isn't charged as a felony case by the DA is insane."

Authorities identified Lee as the suspect who rushed the stage at the Hollywood Bowl during the Netflix Is A Joke festival and tackled Chappelle. Officials with the Los Angeles Police Department said Lee was armed with a replica handgun equipped with a retractable knife blade.


Within seconds, Lee was then tackled to the ground by security. He was then apprehended with the help of actor Jamie Foxx and rapper Busta Rhymes. In true Hollywood fashion, the show went on. Chris Rock was also in attendance and made a joke to help calm the crowd after the chaotic moment.

After the attack, security efforts were stepped up at comedy venues across Los Angeles. 

RELATED: Dave Chappelle assault raises security concerns at comedy venues across LA

What charges does Isaiah Lee face?

Los Angeles County District Attorney George Gascón's office refused to file any felony charges against Lee and handed the case to the city attorney. 

"After reviewing the evidence, prosecutors determined that while criminal conduct occurred, the evidence as presented did not constitute felony conduct," the county DA's office explained. 

The Los Angeles City Attorney's Office filed four misdemeanor charges against Lee on Thursday, which include: battery, possession of a weapon with intent to assault, unauthorized access to the stage, and commission of an act that delays the event or interferes with the performer.

Last week, he pleaded not guilty to all charges and remains in custody on a $30,000 bond.

Lee lost a bid Tuesday to have his bail reduced. The judge declined the request, meaning Lee remains jailed in lieu of $30,000 bail. If he does manage to post bail and is released from custody, he will have to remain at least 100 yards away from Chappelle, the Hollywood Bowl and any venue where Chappelle is performing.Lee is due back in court May 20 for a pretrial hearing.