R&B diva LaBelle sued over alleged airport beating

A West Point cadet and former Army football player is suing

veteran R&B diva Patti LaBelle, saying she ordered her

bodyguards to beat him up as he waited for a ride home outside a

Houston airport terminal.

The lawsuit alleges the cadet, Richard King, was waiting for his

brother and father to pick him up outside one of the terminals at

Bush Intercontinental Airport on March 11, when three of LaBelle’s

bodyguards attacked him. King was in Houston, his hometown, while

on spring break from West Point.

”Apparently, defendant LaBelle believed King was standing too

close to her (no doubt expensive) luggage, even though he was

oblivious to her presence and the danger he was in,” according to

King’s lawsuit, which was filed in Houston civil court on Wednesday

and also names the bodyguards, the airport and a taxi dispatcher as

co-defendants. ”LaBelle lowered the window of her limousine and

gave a command to her bodyguards. They sprang into action.”

One of King’s lawyers, John Raley, said the alleged attacked

resulted in a concussion and lingering dizziness and headaches for

his client. The lawsuit is asking for unspecified damages.

LaBelle’s publicist did not immediately return a telephone call

Friday seeking comment.

The Philadelphia native’s singing career has spanned more than

four decades and includes several hit records and two Grammy


A surveillance video from the airport provided by King’s lawyer

and reviewed by The Associated Press showed King, 23, talking on a

cell phone when one of LaBelle’s bodyguards appeared to push up

against him. It appeared that King then pushed him back. Raley said

King did not push back but was only trying to protect himself from

a punch.

After that, the bodyguard and two other individuals then pushed

and punched King, hitting him in the face and knocking him to the


In the video, the bodyguards could be seen towering over King

and then moving away when King unsuccessfully tried several times

to get up off the ground. Police eventually came over and helped

King. The video then cuts to King, who has a bandage on his head

and blood on his yellow sweater, being placed on an ambulance

stretcher. The video ends with two Houston police officers taking

photos with LaBelle.

LaBelle ”was a full participant in the cruel attack on King,”

the lawsuit said. ”She ordered it, and never tried to stop


One of the individuals involved in the incident, Zuri Edwards,

told police King hit him after he asked the cadet to back away from

the limousine that LaBelle was in, said Kese Smith, a Houston

police spokesman.

Edwards, who said he was the limo driver, and a bodyguard both

told police King appeared to be intoxicated, Smith said. The

investigating officer also noted in his report that King appeared

to be intoxicated and smelled of alcohol. The police report named

King as the suspect in the incident.

Raley said King had a few drinks on the flight to Houston but

denied he was intoxicated.

Edwards declined to press charges and the case is still open,

Smith said. Raley said King is still considering pressing


King, a starting defensive back who was second on Army’s team

with four interceptions as a senior last season, was told by his

doctors he can never play football again because of his injuries,

Raley said. King is the grandson of former Texas Tech University

football coach J.T. King.

Houston police reported the incident to West Point, which

suspended King for at least one year and ordered he go on active


”Our hope is West Point will watch the video and reevaluate the

situation and recognize that Richard King is innocent and should

not be punished in any way,” Raley said.