Dave Chappelle's Attacker Reveals More Details Behind Why He Tackled The Comedian

Dave Chappelle in Dave Chappelle: Sticks and Stones
(Image credit: Netflix)

Dave Chappelle found himself in an unexpected situation earlier this month. While performing at Netflix is a Joke at the Hollywood Bowl, the comedian was tackled by an audience member. The attacker, who was reportedly carrying a replica handgun with a knife blade in it, was promptly subdued and taken into custody. Sometime after, the man was formally given multiple misdemeanor charges (though Chappelle thought it should’ve been a felony). Now, the suspect is opening up about why he threw himself onto the comic. 

The man accused of tackling Dave Chappelle is 23-year-old Isaiah Lee of Los Angeles, who explained that his initial intention was not to attack him. However, he says that he was prompted to take action after the 48-year-old entertainer began to make jokes aimed at the homeless and LGBTQ communities. Lee apparently felt that Chappelle was not “sensitive” when covering said topics: 

I identify as bisexual … and I wanted him to know what he said was triggering. I wanted him to know that next time, he should consider first running his material by people it could affect.

This isn’t the first time that the veteran performer has been accused of making inappropriate jokes about the LGBTQ community. Last year, following the release of his Netfilix special The Closer, he received backlash for telling jokes that were deemed transphobic. Further controversy ensued after Ted Sarandos, the head of the streamer, revealed in internal company emails why the special would not be removed. After the emails leaked, Sarandos apologized for the communication tactic.

The Netflix staple apparently brought up his past controversies during his set at the Hollywood Bowl, according to Isaiah Lee. The man, who also says he was homeless at one point, went on to tell The New York Post from jail that the comedian also joked about pedophiia, which Lee says brought up negative memories from his childhood. Lee added that he also took the comments personally because he’s a father:

I’m also a single dad and my son is 5. It’s a struggle and I wanted Dave Chappelle to know it’s not a joke.

Isaiah Lee was given four misdemeanor charges for his actions, which include battery and possessing a deadly weapon with intent to assault. Los Angeles County District Attorney George Gascó explained that his office could not charge the young man with a felony because the blade he reportedly had was not “locked in an open position.” The A Star is Born actor’s lawyer, Gabriel Colwell, argued that the situation did amount to “violent assault” and asserted that L.A.-based entertainers need better protection. This conversation has picked up steam following this year’s Oscars, where Will Smith slapped Chris Rock (who was present when Dave Chappelle was tackled). Kevin Hart has also commented on the situation, which he calls “not scary,” while David Letterman has since cracked a joke about it.

Isaiah Lee’s case is ongoing, and he’s plead not guilty to the four misdemeanor charges. He’s also facing attempted murder charges for an incident not connected to Dave Chappelle. As of this writing, no further details have been released on the matter by the Los Angeles County District Attorney's Office.

Erik Swann
Senior Content Producer

Covering superheroes, sci-fi, comedy, and almost anything else in film and TV. I eat more pizza than the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles.