Patti LaBelle was recently hit with a lawsuit from a West Point cadet and former Army football player who claimed the singer ordered her bodyguards to beat him up at a Houston airport terminal as he waited for a ride home.
LaBelle and her spokesperson have not commented on the matter.
The 23-year-old cadet, Richard King, says that he was waiting for family to pick him up outside one of the terminals at Bush Intercontinental Airport on March 11 after returning to his hometown while on break from West Point. King says three of LaBelle's bodyguards attacked him while he was waiting.
King told KTRK Television, the Houston-based sister station of KABC Television, the parent company of OnTheRedCarpet.com, that he was on spring break and came to Houston to visit his family. He said he was on the phone with his brother, unaware he was standing next to LaBelle's luggage. King says at the time, he'd never heard of Patti LaBelle.
"I pretty much got jumped," King said. "I really don't even know why, and on top of that, it's causing a lot of trouble up here because of the false police report that they had reported."
The suit was filed in Houston civil court on Wednesday. In addition to LaBelle, it also names the bodyguards, the airport and a taxi dispatcher as co-defendants. It goes on to state that "LaBelle lowered the window of her limousine and gave a command to her bodyguards." They then sprang into action."The entire incident was recorded by a security camera at Bush Intercontinental Airport, according to KTRK Television. King, seen wearing a yellow shirt in the video, was involved in the physical confrontation. His lawyer says that King was the victim of an unprovoked attack.
KTRK quoted Houston police as saying that King is described as a suspect who was harassing the occupants of the limo. HPD also reports it was King who appeared to be intoxicated and punched the limo driver. King denies being drunk.
"He was completely taken by surprise," John Raley, King's attorney, told KTRK Television. "No one would have seen this coming. Even watching the videotape now for the, I don't know how many times we've watched it, it still is surprising the violence and the suddenness and the brutality of this attack."
Raley, a lawyer for King, told the Associated Press that the incident resulted in a concussion and lingering dizziness and headaches for King. The lawsuit is asking for unspecified damages.
The Associated Press also reviewed the surveillance video from the airport, which was provided by King's lawyer. It says that the video showsKing talking on a cell phone when one of LaBelle's bodyguards pushed up against him. It then shows King then pushing him back, however, Raley claims King did not push back but was trying to protect himself from a punch.
The video then shows the bodyguard and two other individuals pushed and punched King, hitting him in the face and knocking him to the ground.
The bodyguards move away from King after he unsuccessfully tried several times to get up off the ground. Police eventually came over and helped King. The video then cuts to King, who has a bandage on his head and blood on his yellow sweater, being placed on an ambulance stretcher.
The video ends with two Houston police officers taking photos with LaBelle.
The lawsuit alleges that LaBelle "was a full participant in the cruel attack on King. She ordered it, and never tried to stop it."
Raley said King was told by his doctors he can never play football again because of his injuries.
The incident was reported to West Point by Houston police. King was suspended for at least one year and ordered he go on active duty.
Zuri Edwards, an individual involved in the incident who also claims to be the limo driver, told police King hit him after he asked the cadet to back away from the limousine that LaBelle was in, according to Houston Police.
Edwards told police King appeared to be intoxicated, Smith said. The investigating officer also noted in his report that King appeared to be intoxicated and smelled of alcohol. The police report named King as the suspect in the incident.
Raley told the Associated Press that King had a few drinks on the flight to Houston but denied he was intoxicated. Robert Bowick, another attorney for King, said: "It doesn't matter if Cadet King was impaired from a drink or two. He was minding his own business. He was not harming anybody. He was not a harm to himself."