In Compton, Suge Knight incidents bring dismay, anger
Marion “Suge” Knight arrives in court on March 9. Knight is accused of striking two men with his pickup and killing one, during an altercation in a Compton parking lot in January.(Kevork Djansezian / Pool Photo)
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 arrest of Marion “Suge” Knight in the death of a man Thursday brought disappointment in Compton.
Authorities say the man was killed after Knight got into a dispute during the filming of a commercial for “Straight Outta Compton,” a biopic about N.W.A., a seminal rap group from the early days of the genre.
Knight is from Compton and was heavily involved in that city’s rap movement in the 1980s and ‘90s. Ice Cube and Dr. Dre were among the big-name rappers who had converged on the area to film the commercial.
City officials expressed dismay at the events and said they hoped they would not mar the way the public receives the film or views the city.
“The acts of one man do not derail the movement we are doing here in Compton,” Mayor Aja Brown said. “Thank you to Dr. Dre, Ice Cube, Universal Studios, and the Grammys for telling the story of what Compton was and is becoming.”
On Friday, detectives from the Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department released new details about the events leading up to the death of Terry Carter, hailed by some as a father figure for troubled young men.
On the set Thursday, sheriff’s deputies asked Knight, 49, to leave after he began arguing with another man, Cle “Bone” Sloan, Lt. John Corina said.
Later, at Tam’s Burgers at Central and East Rosecrans avenues, Knight was in his red Ford F-150 Raptor when he and Sloan tangled again, Corina said.
While Knight was still seated in his truck, he and Sloan argued and exchanged punches. Knight reversed his truck, knocking Sloan to the ground, Corina said.
Knight drove forward, appearing to aim the vehicle at Sloan and Carter, who was standing next to Sloan, authorities said.
Carter, who detectives say was not involved in the argument, died at the scene. Sloan, 51, who appeared in “Training Day” with Denzel Washington and is also a filmmaker and activist against gang violence, was said to be in stable condition.
After striking the men, Knight drove off without notifying authorities, Corina said.
According to the California Department of Motor Vehicles, Knight had a hold on his driver’s license and was not allowed to renew it because of an outstanding issue. In the past, his license had been suspended for failure to appear in court.
Knight’s attorney, James E. Blatt, described Carter as a good friend of Knight who was trying to break up the fight.
Blatt contradicted the detectives’ narrative, saying that Knight went to Tam’s Burgers at Carter’s invitation. There, according to Blatt, Knight was attacked by four men, including Sloan, and was trying to escape, fearing for his life, when he ran over Carter and Sloan.
“I’ll say this — when someone is attacking you in the vehicle, grabbing at the steering wheel, you don’t have the best control of your vehicle,” Blatt said.
Knight was heartbroken when he learned Carter had died, Blatt said. The two had known each other since the 1980s and were in business together for a time.
Early Friday, Knight turned himself in for questioning at the West Hollywood sheriff’s station. Within hours, he was arrested and jailed on suspicion of murder and remained in the Men’s Central Jail while Blatt tried to obtain $2 million in bail.
Filming the “Straight Outta Compton” commercial was a celebratory occasion for a city that was once known for gang violence but has recently seen new business investment as well as a decrease in homicides.
The music that propelled Knight and others into stardom also cast Compton in a negative light, and the city spent years trying to distance itself from the music and the rappers who made it famous. But recently, city officials have been embracing local talent.
On Wednesday night, Kendrick Lamar joined former N.W.A. members Ice Cube and Dre — all Compton natives — to film the commercial at Tam’s Burgers, said Janna Zurita, a Compton councilwoman.
Zurita brought local children to the set to meet Dre, Compton’s first billionaire.
The next day, filming continued at a local barbershop with the addition of another native son, the rapper known as The Game. The crew headed to Compton City Hall and continued shooting outside until breaking for lunch, said Zurita, who left after the morning session.
“It was such a joyous event,” Zurita said. “Dre was in the neighborhood. The community was out. How could something so good turn so sour?”
With three superstars in one place, security was tighter than during the filming of the movie itself, Zurita said. Last summer, there was a drive-by shooting during the filming.
On Friday, the lunchtime rush proceeded as usual at Tam’s Burgers. Some whispered about the fatal incident.
Before the incident, Mikal Henderson, 62, said the publicity surrounding the film had him feeling good about his adopted hometown. But now he fears this tragedy will remind outsiders of Compton’s troubled days.
“They are not going to know anything about the jobs being created and the other construction projects,” Henderson said as he sat outside Tam’s. “When people think of Compton, they get imagery of way back. They don’t see the positive stuff going on right now.”
Get breaking news, investigations, analysis and more signature journalism from the Los Angeles Times in your inbox.
You may occasionally receive promotional content from the Los Angeles Times.