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California Man Sentenced To 270 Days For Attacking Dave Chappelle On Stage

Isaiah Lee, who's still facing attempted murder charges in a separate incident, says he was "triggered" by Dave Chappelle's comedy routine, prompting him to rush the stage and tackle the celebrity to the ground. 

By Jax Miller
Dave Chappelle

An audience member accused of attacking comic Dave Chappelle during a stand-up performance in May has pleaded no contest to the charges.

Isaiah Lee, 24, will spend the next 270 days behind bars for misdemeanor battery and entering a restricted area during a live event, according to the Los Angeles Times. A spokesperson for the Los Angeles City Attorney’s office confirmed the ruling with Oxygen.com.

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Investigators say Lee rushed the stage at the famous Hollywood Bowl amphitheater on May 3 as Chappelle wrapped up his “Netflix Is a Joke” festival set. Though Lee tackled Chappelle to the ground, the comedian was not harmed. Lee was apprehended on the scene by venue security.

Lee was later found to be in possession of a firearm replica equipped with a 3-inch folding knife attachment.

"The weapon in the case will be destroyed," the City Attorney's office confirmed with Oxygen.com

Lee was initially charged with felony assault with a deadly weapon before charges were reduced to a misdemeanor.

The Los Angeles County District Attorney’s declined to file felony charges against Lee because he did not brandish the weapon in the attack, according to the Times.

Many, including Chappelle, suspect Lee has mental health issues. During another comedy routine days later, Chappelle told audience members that he spoke with Lee following the attack, just as paramedics went to take him away.

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Lee allegedly explained to Chappelle that he rushed the stage to raise awareness for his Brooklyn-based grandmother, who’d recently been evicted from her home because of gentrification.

Deputy Public Defender Chelsea Padilla attempted to have her client placed in a mental health diversion program in August, but the motion was denied, according to the Times.

However, Lee also told the New York Post after the attack that he felt “triggered” by Chapelle’s comedy routine, which included Chappelle reportedly taking aim at the LGBTQ+ community and the unhoused population.

On May 19, just over two weeks after the incident, Los Angeles County District Attorney George Gascón announced attempted murder charges against Lee for the unrelated December 2021 stabbing of his roommate.

The alleged attack is believed to have occurred at a transitional housing facility, according to CBS Los Angeles affiliate KCBS-TV.

“The publicity generated by the attack on Mr. Chappelle helped police solve this crime,” said Gascón.

In another interview with the New York Post, Lee said he was inspired by Will Smith slapping Chris Rock at the Oscars.

Two months before the Chappelle attack, the Oscars-hosting Rock had been slapped on stage by Smith during the live broadcast of the 94th Academy Awards. Rock had just finished making a quip about Smith’s wife, Jada Pinkett Smith, and her lack of hair, which she'd been shaving off due to her alopecia.

“I wanted [Chappelle] to know that next time, he should consider first running material by people it could affect,” said Lee. "I wanted Dave Chappelle and people to know that these are things you need to be more sensitive about and not joke about."

Chris Rock was at the Hollywood Bowl when Lee attacked Chappelle, joking with the audience that Chappelle’s attacker could have been Will Smith.

“At least you got smacked by someone of repute,” Chappelle told Rock at a later performance. “I got smacked by a homeless guy with leaves in his hair.”

Lee is being held on $1 million bond while his attempted murder case is still pending, according to NBC News.

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