Los Angeles County District Attorney George Gascón will not be seeking felony charges for the man accused of attacking comedian Dave Chappelle on Tuesday night because, according to sources, the suspect did not assault Chappelle while using a deadly weapon.
On Tuesday evening, Isaiah Lee, 23, was arrested on suspicion of assault with a deadly weapon after tackling Chappelle during a show in Los Angeles. Sources told The Los Angeles Times that Lee had a knife hidden inside a replica gun that night, but authorities say that the weapon was in a bag and was not brandished toward the comedian during the attack. As a result, Gascón has handed the case over to the city of L.A.
“The Los Angeles County District Attorney’s Office has referred the case to the Los Angeles City Attorney’s Office for misdemeanor filing consideration,” Greg Risling, spokesperson for the Los Angeles County District Attorney’s Office, told Fox News.
Not everybody in the DA’s office agreed with the decision. Los Angeles County Deputy District Attorney Jonathan Hatami told Fox News, “Anyone who arms themselves with a deadly weapon, in this case a knife, and violently attacks an innocent person, famous or not, should be charged accordingly.”
“With only a misdemeanor charge, the person could be released soon, with only a slap on the wrist,” Hatami added. “That fails to provide justice to the victim, accountability for this person’s actions, and safety to the general public. These concepts, however, like public safety and justice, that most of us value, are concepts George Gascón can care less about.”
Groups backing Gascón’s candidacy received millions of dollars from progressive billionaire George Soros during the 2020 race. The reform-minded prosecutor has been repeatedly criticized for what critics say is a soft-on-crime approach advocated by leftist district attorneys across the country. There is currently a petition to recall Gascón, which has received more than 400,000 signatures. It needs 566,857 signatures by July 6, 2022, in order for the recall question to be listed on the ballot this November.
Los Angeles County Sheriff Alex Villanueva told Fox News on Thursday that he expects the recall to happen.
“It looks like it’s gonna happen,” Villanueva said. “I think that’s a historical moment for this experiment with ultra-progressive DAs who don’t do their job. I think the country has had enough with it. They just want to see basic law and order reinstituted everywhere.”
Fox also noted that since Gascón took office in 2020, “Los Angeles has seen a 34% increase in homicide, 15.5% increase in violent crimes, 6.7% increase in property crimes and 67% increase in shooting victims. Arrests have decreased by nearly 25% since 2020, according to LAPD statistics.”
For his part, Chappelle was physically unharmed during the attack. Still, the comedian called the incident “unfortunate and unsettling” in a statement given to CNN.