Suge Knight’s lawyer says video clears former rap mogul in fatal clash
Judge Ronald S. Coen accepts a plea from Marion “Suge” Knight of no contest to voluntary manslaughter in a downtown Los Angeles courtroom.(Gary Coronado / Los Angeles Times)
Former rap mogul Marion “Suge” Knight, left, with his defense attorney Albert DeBlanc, listens to the terms of his plea of no contest to voluntary manslaughter Thursday in a downtown Los Angeles courtroom.(Gary Coronado / Los Angeles Times)
A family photo of Terry Carter and his wife Lillian Carter. Terry Carter was killed by Marion “Suge” Knight in 2015(Genaro Molina / Los Angeles Times)
The attorney for former rap mogul Marion “Suge” Knight said Monday that a video posted online that appears to show Knight’s truck striking two men in Compton clears his client of any wrongdoing.
The video, posted on TMZ on Monday, appears to show Knight’s red truck pulling up to a Compton hamburger stand. He appears to talk to several people standing nearby before the truck backs up and hits one of the men, who falls to the ground. Seconds later in the video, the truck comes back and runs over the man on the ground and hits a second man before speeding away.
Knight appeared in court for a brief appearance Monday. His attorney, Matthew Fletcher, spoke with reporters afterward and said the video shows Knight being attacked while he sits inside his truck before speeding off.
“They started it. … They attacked him,” Fletcher said, equating Knight’s reaction to a stand-your-ground situation. “You’re not required by law to run. … If Suge had put it in park and got out, he’s dead.”
Referring to the video, Fletcher said “100% it proves Suge Knight was attacked.”
Prosecutors have charged Knight with murder and attempted murder for allegedly striking two men with his vehicle at Tam’s Burgers in Compton on Jan. 29. Terry Carter, 55, died, and Cle “Bone” Sloan, 51, was injured in the incident. Knight has pleaded not guilty.
Fletcher said the video, which he said was recorded by a security camera at Tam’s Burgers, also shows a man with a gun. Toward the end of the footage, someone is seeing taking a black object away from Sloan while he’s on the ground, but the image is grainy.
Fletcher said Knight was attacked by both Sloan and Carter while sitting in his truck at the eatery.
A lawyer who said he is representing Carter’s family disputed Fletcher’s claim that the victim had attacked Knight.
“Mr. Carter was a respected businessman with no gang affiliations,” said attorney Carl E. Douglas in a statement. “Any suggestion by Mr. Knight that Mr. Carter played any role whatsoever in the fight through the car window is self-serving nonsense with no factual support whatsoever.”
Douglas said the video of the incident “shows a senseless act of violence. While the criminal investigation appears to be ongoing and our own investigation has just begun, the video makes clear that Terry Carter’s tragic death was caused by unnecessary acts of violence initiated by Cle Sloan attacking Suge Knight, and Mr. Knight choosing to retaliate using his motor vehicle as a deadly weapon, rather than simply driving off to a place of safety.”
Prosecutors claim Knight intentionally struck the men with his vehicle. A former lawyer for Knight said Knight was assaulted and, while trying to get away from his attackers, accidentally ran into the men. The video does not appear to capture an assault.
The confrontation began when Knight, Carter and Sloan began arguing on the set of “Straight Outta Compton,” a biopic about the rap group N.W.A.
Knight was kicked off the set and was leaving the area when someone called him and asked him to go to Tam’s Burgers, where the deadly confrontation unfolded, Fletcher said.
Knight was taken to a jail infirmary last week after saying in court that he couldn’t “really comprehend” what was happening.
Fletcher said he updated Knight on how the video affects his case.
“I said, ‘This helps you beyond any stretch of imagination,’ ” Fletcher said he told Knight. “I know this – Suge didn’t get out of the car and attack them.”
Knight also faces charges stemming from an incident in which prosecutors say he and comedian Katt Williams stole a camera from a photographer last September.
Times staff writer Richard Winton contributed to this report.
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