Richard King has filed a lawsuit claiming he was attacked by LaBelle's security March 11 after apparently getting too close to her luggage. Security camera footage, released by King's legal representation, shows King near LaBelle's limousine as her luggage is on the loading area curbside. Soon King is struck by someone and can be seen struggling to regain his footing.
He eventually stumbles inside the airport and was sent by ambulance to a hospital. His attorney, John Raley, said King was diagnosed with a concussion.
King, 23, is a senior at the U.S. Military Academy at West Point and was on spring break when he flew home to Houston and was waiting for his brother and father to pick him up, according to the lawsuit.
"He didn't know who Patti LaBelle was, she's not in his generation," Raley told the Philadelphia Inquirer.
LaBelle thought King was standing too close to her luggage, rolled down the window of her limousine and "gave a command to her bodyguards" who "sprang into action," according to the lawsuit.
The surveillance footage shows King near the limousine, holding his cell phone in front of him. He appears to have a brief conversation with LaBelle's security. Then, one of the men chest-bumps King, who responds with a push of the right hand. Two men and one woman surround King, with one of them throwing a punch.
Zuri Edwards, LaBelle's limousine driver, says in a police incident report that King was verbally abusive and hit him after King was asked to move as staffers approached the luggage carts, according to the Houston Chronicle. Police said Edwards suffered a bruise on his face but did not want to press charges.
Raley told the Chronicle King might undergo medical testing to determine the extent of his injuries. King was a defensive player for the Army football team but his doctor has advised him to give up the game for a year, Raley said.
King seeks unspecified damages against LaBelle, three bodyguards, a taxi dispatcher and the airport.
A publicist for LaBelle was not available at press time.
Click here for the Philadelphia Inquirer article and here for the Houston Chronicle’s account.