The man charged by storming the stage and fighting comedian Dave Chappelle during his Netflix is a joke show at the Hollywood Bowl last May will be moved to a new prison dormitory to receive mental health services while he awaits trial in his felony case, a judge ruled Tuesday.
A public defender requested Isaiah Lee’s transfer at a hearing in a downtown Los Angeles courtroom that Lee, 23, did not attend.
“He will remain in custody. It just puts him in another dormitory in the jail so he has access to mental health and substance abuse classes,” said Los Angeles County Public Defender Delaila Doe when she requested the move to a program called START.
“It’s fine for people as long as he’s not released into any program outside of prison,” Los Angeles Deputy District Attorney Sharon Liang said.
“Oh, he’s not going to be released,” Judge Armenui Ashvanian replied, making it clear she was maintaining Lee’s $30,000 bond while agreeing to order his transfer to the treatment program.
Ashwanian made it clear she expected Tuesday’s hearing to consider Lee’s defense team’s request that he be allowed to settle his felony charges by entering a special mental health program outside of custody. That didn’t happen, and the judge scheduled a follow-up hearing for October 3.
Asked by the court if Lee planned to request a diversion program at the next hearing, Do said she thought the next date would be a regular “pretrial” date. Do declined to comment after the hearing on whether the diversion request hit a snag.
“The preliminary proceedings will begin on October 3 and that is without further extension,” Judge Ashwanian told both sides before the hearing ended. “I understand that the accused has a pending crime, but we cannot drag this crime after this crime for years because we do not know how long the attempted murder case will take. This case must either settle or go to trial.”
Two weeks after the incident at the Hollywood Bowl, Lee, 23, was charged with separate crimes in which he allegedly stabbed a roommate at a transient housing complex on Dec. 2, 2021.
In connection with the assault with Chappelle, which was captured on video, Lee was charged with aggravated battery, criminal possession of a deadly weapon with intent to assault, and two misdemeanors for stage-hopping and assaulting Chappelle during his performance. If convicted of the felony-only charges, he faces up to a year and a half in county jail and up to $4,000 in fines.
Los Angeles County District Attorney George Gascon took heat when he dismissed felony charges in the case, but his office said the incident did not meet the threshold for a felony prosecution because Lee’s alleged weapon — a replica switchblade pistol — was in a folded position the entire time and because Chappelle was not injured.
Chappelle’s attorney previously said A rolling stone that the comedian wanted Gascón to review and press criminal charges for the incident on stage. “Mr. Chappelle wants this case to be charged as a felony,” said Gabriel Colwell, a partner at Squire Patton Boggs. “Artists in Los Angeles need to know that the court system will protect them on stage.”
Lee’s brother, Aaron Lee, said earlier A rolling stone that Lee has been in and out of homeless shelters in Los Angeles in recent years and struggles with his mental health.
In an interview in prison with New York Post, Lee reportedly rushed the stage out of frustration with Chappelle’s jokes about the LGBTQ community and homelessness. “I wanted him to know that next time he should consider releasing his material first from people he might affect,” he said, adding: “I identify as bisexual. . . and I wanted him to know what he had set in motion.’