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Drakeo the Ruler’s family says lack of security at L.A. concert contributed to fatal stabbing

Drakeo the Ruler seen outside a recording studio
Drakeo the Ruler, whose real name was Darrell Caldwell, was fatally stabbed in an altercation at a Los Angeles music festival in December.
(Wyatt Winfrey / Associated Press)

The family of rapper Drakeo the Ruler announced Thursday it will file a wrongful death lawsuit against the promoters of the L.A. music festival where he was fatally stabbed backstage, blaming a lack of security at the December event.

The family of the 28-year-old rapper, whose real name was Darrell Caldwell, also released a video showing a mob of men dressed in red assaulting Drakeo before he was stabbed. Drakeo was one of a dozen high-profile rappers scheduled to perform at the Once Upon a Time in L.A. festival on Dec. 18 at the Banc of California Stadium in Exposition Park.

The video shows the assailants swarm Drakeo, who falls to the ground as half a dozen young men repeatedly deliver blows. Drakeo was stabbed in the neck and rushed to a nearby hospital, where he died of his injuries, authorities said. His killers remain at large.

“Mr. Caldwell was essentially lynched by over 40 to 60 people, and as you also saw, Mr. Caldwell had no security,” said attorney James Bryant, who represents the Caldwell family. “That video ran for a full minute and you didn’t see one security officer there. The video you saw was one of the last few moments of Darrell Caldwell’s life.”

Bryant alleged that Drakeo was only allowed an entourage of eight people backstage and that when he arrived, a fight broke out and dozens of men dressed in red were able to flow into the area. He said Drakeo was then corralled by the mob without any security personnel around. There was a surge, he said, and “we believe knives came into play.”

“It should have never have happened,” Bryant said. “The concert Once Upon a Time in Los Angeles had 50 of the most iconic music artists in the industry, but ... you also knew there could be an element of danger. You had Bloods. You had Crips and affiliations amongst them. We all know those groups don’t go together.”

He and other attorneys for the Caldwell family allege that Live Nation, Bobby Dee Presents and C3 Presents did not provide adequate security at the event. “This would have never happened if those promoters had had the proper security protocol. This was a preventable death,” Bryant said.

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A lawsuit will be filed next week against the promoters seeking upward of $20 million, he said.

After the brutal attack, authorities were forced to shut down the event about 8:30 p.m. The concert was slated to go on until 11 p.m.

Festival organizers on Thursday released a brief statement: “Once Upon a Time in L.A. joins Drakeo’s family, friends, and fans in grieving his loss. The festival is continuing to support local authorities in their investigation as they pursue the facts.”

The rapper’s death left his 5-year-old son, Caiden, fatherless, his family said at a news conference Thursday.

“It’s been hard,” said Caiden’s mother, Tianna Purtue, who held the boy as she talked to reporters. “It has been a real tragedy for him. ... How can I explain his dad is not coming back? ... He is gone and we not going to see him again.”

“I love my dad. I miss my dad,” the boy said.

Drakeo, an L.A. native who had become an increasingly popular rapper, had released 10 mixtapes and put out his first studio album early last year. He recorded the mixtape “Thank You for Using GTL,” a reference to prison communications company Global Tel Link, with verses recorded over a phone while he was being held at Men’s Central Jail awaiting trial in connection with the 2016 killing of a 24-year-old man.

Drakeo was acquitted of felony murder and attempted murder charges, but L.A. County prosecutors sought to retry him on conspiracy charges in the slaying. The second case was ultimately resolved with a plea deal and he was released in November 2020.

Bryant noted that Drakeo’s fatal stabbing was the latest in a series of deadly incidents involving Live Nation concerts.

“This did not start with Astroworld,” he said, referring to the November music festival in Houston in which 10 people died and hundreds more were injured after crowds rushed the stage toward the start of Travis Scott’s set. “It has happened time and time again.”


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