Houston jury clears Patti LaBelle's bodyguards of assault

Wed Sep 24, 2014 10:48am EDT
 
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AUSTIN Texas (Reuters) - A Houston jury cleared bodyguards of Grammy Award-winning singer Patti LaBelle in a lawsuit filed by a former West Point cadet who claimed they beat him so badly he had to drop out of the military academy.

In a decision late on Tuesday, the federal court jury sided with the singer's bodyguards, who said Richard King initiated the 2011 dispute while he was waiting for a ride at a Houston airport. Attorneys for the bodyguards said King shouted racial epithets at the group and hit LaBelle's son.

"While staggering around the passenger pick-up area, King was, among other things, screaming obscenities and attempting to enter LaBelle's limousine transportation," they said in papers filed at court.

King's lawyers said the bodyguards, including one who weighed over 400 pounds (180 kgs), started the attack because he was too close to the group. They said he was forced to drop out of West Point due to brain injuries suffered in the assault.

"LaBelle's security guards are - with her complete consent and approval - violent paid thugs who have no qualms about assaulting innocent people who happen to be standing too close to ... LaBelle," they said in court papers.

(Reporting by Jon Herskovitz; Editing by Bill Trott)

 
Patti LaBelle sings Over the Rainbow during a television taping of "In Performance at the White House: Women of Soul" in Washington March 6, 2014.  REUTERS/Jonathan Ernst