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LOS ANGELES (Reuters) - Rap music mogul Marion "Suge" Knight was arrested on charges of assault and domestic violence on Wednesday after punching his girlfriend and pulling a knife on her during an argument, Las Vegas police said.
Knight, 43, co-founder of the rap label Death Row Records, also was charged with two drug offenses when he was found to be in possession of ecstasy and the prescription narcotic Hydrocodone, police said in a statement.
Police said Knight's girlfriend of three years, who was not identified in the statement, told officers that Knight punched her in the head during an argument while he was driving with her in an automobile.
In an effort to escape, the girlfriend grabbed the steering wheel causing the vehicle to hit a curb and come to an abrupt stop, then she fled with Knight in pursuit, police said.
When officers arrived on the scene, responding to a domestic violence call, they found Knight standing over the woman holding a knife, according to police.
A police spokesman, Jay Rivera, said the woman was not stabbed, but added, "Had it not been for that citizen calling, who knows what would have happened?"
Knight was arrested without incident and booked into the Clark County Detention Center, while his girlfriend was taken to a nearby hospital, police said.
Knight's lawyer, Richard Schonfeld, said he expected his client to post bail, which was set at $19,000, after the mandatory 12-hour holding period for domestic violence cases.
"The only comment we can make is we're gathering all the facts, and we'll be representing him in the case," he added.
Knight, who helped promote such rap stars as Snoop Dogg and Tupac Shakur in the 1990s, has seen his career overshadowed by numerous run-ins with the law over the years.
He was sent to prison in October 1996 for violating his probation on a previous assault case by allegedly kicking a man during a scuffle at a Las Vegas hotel.
The scuffle took place hours before Shakur was gunned down in September 1996 in a drive-by shooting. Knight was at the wheel of the car in which Shakur was fatally shot and was slightly wounded himself.
Months later, rap artist Christopher Wallace, who was known as Notorious B.I.G. and signed to a rival record label, was shot to death in Los Angeles.
Knight, who was incarcerated at the time, was named by police a few years later as a suspect in the Wallace slaying but was never charged. Both rap murders remain unsolved.
Knight was released from prison in April 2001. The following year a federal racketeering probe of Knight and his record label, which stemmed from allegations of murder, drug trafficking, money laundering and gun running, was closed with the company pleading guilty to misdemeanor tax charges.
In 2006, Knight and Death Row Records filed for bankruptcy protection as he faced the prospect of losing control of his label in a $107 million civil court judgment. But the sale of the label's music assets and Knight's publishing rights fell through last month.