SEEMS AS IF Patti LaBelle‘s next single should be a cover of the Police’s “Don’t Stand So Close to Me.”
On Wednesday, Richard King filed a lawsuit against the Wynnewood-based LaBelle and her bodyguards after they allegedly beat the living crap out of him. King, a West Point cadet and member of the school’s football team, was returning home for spring break on March 11 via Bush Intercontinental Airport in Houston when LaBelle’s bodyguard’s took issue with his proximity to the Queen of Rock ‘n’ Soul’s luggage.
The lawsuit says King was waiting for his ride, when LaBelle got into her stretch limo. She decided King was too close, siccing her guards on him. While the attack was occurring, King said that LaBelle “watched the vicious assault with approval” from the safety of her limo.
“LaBelle is hot-tempered herself, and has a reputation for both inciting and participating in acts of violence in public,” the suit reads. “She ordered it, and never tried to stop it.”
LaBelle did get out of her car by the time the Houston Police Department arrived on the scene. In security-camera footage, she is seen posing for snapshots with the officers just a few feet from the blood-splattered pavement where the beatdown took place. (Not cool, HPD. But, can you blame them? She was LaBelle in LaBelle!)
King wasn’t so starstruck. “He didn’t know who Patti LaBelle was,” King’s attorney John Raley told KHOU 11 News. “He didn’t know he was standing anywhere near somebody famous.” Instead of beating King up, LaBelle’s bodyguards should have just laid some knowledge on the boy. There’s no excuse for ignorance of pop-music royalty.
Too bad for King that the police report doesn’t jibe with his story. The HPD didn’t deny that the attack occurred (it was all caught on camera) but says that it was King who was the attacker. LaBelle’s son/limo driver Zuri Edwards told cops that the cadet made the first move, striking him after Edwards told him to vamoose.
The report also says King smelled of alcohol, which King acknowledges. “I had some drinks on the plane, but I mean, I wasn’t anywhere near intoxicated or anything along those lines,” King told KHOU.
King, who is also suing the airport and a taxi dispatcher for not providing a safe environment, is seeking actual and punitive damages, as well as attorney fees and court costs.