Former rap music mogul Marion "Suge" Knight was fleeing for his life when he allegedly ran over two people – killing one of them – in Compton on Thursday afternoon, his attorney James Blatt says.
FOR THE RECORD:
Suge Knight: In the Jan. 30 California section, an article about Marion "Suge" Knight's suspected involvement in a fatal hit-and-run gave Los Angeles County Sheriff's Lt. John Corina's rank as captain.
A group of people attacked Knight and threatened to kill him and were “attempting to drag him outside of the vehicle when he made an effort to escape ... in fear for his life,” Blatt told the Los Angeles Times on Friday morning.
But police have a different view. After interviewing the onetime hip-hop mogul, Los Angeles County detectives arrested him on suspicion of murder.
Knight, questioned at the Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department West Hollywood station early Friday, is being held in lieu of $2-million bail.
“The investigation is in the very beginning stages," Blatt said. "We anticipate him being exonerated.”
Knight, 49, allegedly ran over two men with his truck following an argument on a film set in Compton.
The confrontation began about 3 p.m. Thursday when Knight and two unidentified men began arguing on the set of "Straight Outta Compton," a biopic about the group N.W.A., said Lt. John Corina of the Sheriff's Department's detectives unit.
FOR THE RECORD
11:39 a.m.: An earlier version of this article incorrectly referred to Lt. John Corina of the L.A. County Sheriff's Department as a captain.
About 20 minutes after the argument, the victims were at Tam's Burgers near Central and East Rosecrans avenues, authorities said. Knight is believed to have followed the men in his truck and run them over in the parking lot, Corina said.
Witnesses said the driver hit the men with the truck, then backed over them before driving from the scene.
One of the victims, 55, died, and the other, 51, suffered undisclosed injuries, Corina said. At least one of the victims was a member of the film crew, he said.
"I am positive Mr. Knight will be exonerated," Blatt said. "Investigators are still interviewing witnesses and still need to see video of the incident."
A representative for Knight had no comment on the allegations.
Traffic slowed to a crawl at the corner of Rosecrans and Central as evening commuters tried to navigate past the crime scene. Onlookers gathered, trying to catch a glimpse of the parking lot of the popular burger joint. Social media exploded with the news about Knight's allegedly being involved in another crime.
Directed by F. Gary Gray, "Straight Outta Compton" tells the story of N.W.A., a pioneering rap group made up of Arabian Prince, DJ Yella, Dr. Dre, Eazy-E and Ice Cube, and later, MC Ren. Modern-day rappers credit the group with making rap mainstream and inspiring many of today's top artists. Knight's affiliation with the production of the movie, if any, is unclear.
Knight co-founded Death Row Records with Dr. Dre in 1991 and built it into the first rap label to consistently dominate the pop scene. But he has a history of legal troubles.
In 1996, Knight was at the wheel of a BMW in Las Vegas when passenger and popular rapper Tupac Shakur was shot by gunmen in another vehicle. Shakur died a week later, and the case has not been solved.
In 1997, Knight was sentenced to nine years in prison for violating the terms of his probation from an earlier assault case. He was released from prison in 2001 but was sent back to jail two years later for violating parole when he hit a parking lot attendant.
In 2006, Knight filed for bankruptcy. He put his Malibu mansion up for sale the following year. In 2008, he was arrested in Las Vegas on suspicion of drug possession and aggravated assault. The next year, he pleaded guilty to misdemeanor battery.
Last August, Knight and two others were shot inside a packed West Hollywood nightclub at a pre-awards party hosted by singer Chris Brown.