Dave Chappelle's attacker speaks for first time: says was 'triggered'

Dave Chappelle attacker Isaiah Lee breaks his silence and reveals he was ‘triggered’ by jokes about the LGBTQ community and homelessness when he tackled comedian on stage

  • Isaiah Lee, 23, stormed the stage on May 3 in Los Angeles during a standup show by Dave Chappelle, and attempted to tackle the comedian to the ground
  • Lee was arrested and charged with felony assault with a deadly weapon, having carried a flick knife onto the stage
  • On Sunday Lee told The New York Post, from jail, that he was ‘triggered’ by Chappelle’s jokes about gay people
  • He said he was also angered by Chappelle’s jokes about homeless people, saying: ‘It’s a struggle and I wanted Dave Chappelle to know it’s not a joke’

The man who attacked Dave Chappelle on stage at a Los Angeles comedy show earlier this month said he was ‘triggered’ by the comedian’s jokes about gay people and homelessness, and told Chappelle he should be more sensitive. 

Isaiah Lee, 23, was charged with four misdemeanors after the May 3 attack – 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 the event or interferes with the performer.

He stormed the stage in Los Angeles and tried to tackle Chappelle while carrying a folding knife attached to a fake replica firearm, in front of a high profile crowd that included people such as Elon Musk.

The comedian was able to sidestep Lee, and was unharmed. Lee was arrested at the scene, and taken to hospital with a broken arm.

On Sunday, Lee told The New York Post that he was not amused by Chappelle’s repartee.

‘I identify as bisexual and I wanted him to know what he said was triggering,’ Lee said Saturday at the Twin Towers Correctional Facility in Los Angeles.

‘I wanted him to know that next time, he should consider first running his material by people it could affect.’

He said he was excited to see Chappelle’s show, being recorded live for Netflix, but grew increasingly angry at the content. 

He had been homeless before, and said the jokes made him emotional and upset. 

Isaiah Lee, 23, is seen in court in Los Angeles following his attack on Dave Chappelle

Lee had previously allegedly jumped on stage and tried to attack Dave Chappelle, who was able to sidestep his attacker and avoid injury. Lee had been carrying a knife and inside a replica gun 

Lee, 23, said on Saturday that he attacked Chappelle because he found his comedy ‘triggering’

‘I’m also a single dad and my son is five,’ Lee told the paper. 

‘It’s a struggle and I wanted Dave Chappelle to know it’s not a joke.’

He said his breaking point came when another comedian in the show’s lineup make a joke about pedophilia, which Lee said brought back memories of being molested when he was 17.

Asked about reports that he suffers from mental health issues, Lee said they were ‘wrong’ and ‘inaccurate.’ 

His lawyer, however, has said he is receiving mental health services. 

Lee also now faces attempted murder charges, after the confrontation led officials in Los Angeles to discover that he was the suspect in another crime. 

He was accused of stabbing his roommate back in December at a ‘transitional housing program’ generally reserved for homeless individuals.

The Los Angeles district attorney, George Gascon, is crediting the publicity surrounding Lee’s attack on Chappelle with helping the victim identify his alleged attacker.

‘The publicity generated by the attack on Mr. Chappelle helped police solve this crime,’ said Gascon in a statement. 

‘The incident that occurred at the Hollywood Bowl was misdemeanor conduct and rightfully referred to the City Attorney’s Office. 

‘Based on the nature and severity of the December attack, Mr Lee is now facing felony charges which my office will prosecute.’ 

Lee pleaded not guilty to the stabbing charge. He is scheduled to return to court on June 2.

Lee has been charged with attempted murder for allegedly stabbing his roommate back in December 

Lee suffered a broken arm after security arrested him and took him off stage

Lee had initially pleaded not guilty to four misdemeanor counts at his arraignment in relation to the attack on Chappelle, during which the Los Angeles District Attorney’s Office declined to issue felony charges.

He faces just 18 months in jail if convicted.

Lee’s attorney said the the man never brandished his concealed weapon at any time when he stormed the stage. 

Chappelle has not yet publicly reacted to the decision, but during a comedy show, the comedian revealed that he has spoken with the attacker. 

The 23-year-old was taken into custody at the event, then was taken to the hospital. He is now in jail 

This is the weapon Lee had when he tried and attack Chappelle on stage

Los Angeles District Attorney George Gascon (pictured) failed to pursue felony charges against Lee, who now only faces misdemeanor charges for the attack on Chappelle 

Chappelle said that he asked police whether he could speak to Lee. 

‘I needed to talk to him,’ Chappelle told his audience at LA’s Comedy Store’s secret 70-chair room the Belly Room, according to The Hollywood Reporter. 

Chappelle said that the attack was down to Lee’s grandmother from Brooklyn, who was forced out of her neighborhood because of gentrification, and the stunt was meant to draw attention to the issue. 

He joked about the situation alongside fellow comedian Chris Rock, who was slapped by Will Smith during the Oscars ceremony, stating: ‘At least you got smacked by someone of repute! I got smacked by a homeless guy with leaves in his hair.’ 

Gascon’s office – which is famously in favor of low-or-no-cash-bonds – chose not to pursue the most serious line of punishment over the concealed weapon. 

Instead, they have referred the case to the LA City Attorney Mike Feuer,  recommending a misdemeanor charge because ‘the evidence as presented did not constitute felony conduct,’ according to ABC.

When announcing the charges, Los Angeles City Attorney Mike Feuer seemed to issue a veiled criticism of the DA, saying: ‘My office takes protecting public safety extremely seriously.’ 

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