Suge Knight was slapped with a staggering $25 million bail Friday thanks to his prime candidacy as a major flight risk, according to a Los Angeles judge, and allegedly violent history of intimidating witnesses. The news caused Knight to collapse in the courthouse, and he was later rushed to a prison hospital for observation.
Knight’s attorney Matt Fletcher became perhaps the first lawyer ever to invoke the “Empire Defense,” accusing the prosecutor of being unduly influenced by the Fox television series. “It’s like she watches Empire and comes in and says, ‘He was an unrepentant and shameless criminal. Prosecute him,’” Fletcher said. But according to prosecutors determined to keep the murder suspect behind bars, the former Death Row Records mogul, who already has two strikes under his belt, makes Lucious Lyon look like Carl Winslow.
In requesting the unusually high bail, the DA’s office rattled off a laundry list of violent acts they say Knight allegedly perpetrated against 26 different victims dating back to 2004, including threats to former N.W.A. rappers Dr. Dre and Ice Cube over the upcoming film Straight Outta Compton.
The upcoming Universal biopic is what allegedly brought Knight to Compton’s Tam’s Burgers on January 29, where he claims he was ambushed by gunmen before gunning his red SUV truck into two men, one of whom died on the scene. Knight stands accused of murder and attempted murder from the deadly incident, which was caught on camera. Knight has pleaded not guilty to all the charges.
According to a court documents reviewed by The Daily Beast, Knight was upset he wasn’t getting paid for the use of his likeness in the film and sent threatening text messages in 2014 to an unidentified victim that read, “I will see u in person… u have kids just like me so let’s play hardball you bitch ass Nigga” and “I’m from Bompton… time has arrived Faith in God keep people safe The Devils money can’t save no 1…I will make sure u an that Fagg [Dr. Dre] and Taft High school graduate [Ice Cube] receive your hugs…”
The motion also claims Knight’s recent activities included money laundering and a scheme to “tax” out-of-state rappers and athletes as much as $30,000 just to work in Los Angeles and Las Vegas. A source in the music industry allegedly told investigators the extortion plot is jointly run by rival gangs the Bloods and the Crips, according to the motion.
According to the motion the source, a “well-known rapper’s” manager, told Sergeant Richard Biddle of the L.A. County Sheriff’s Department that Knight, a Blood, and a Crip named Big U are allegedly in cahoots on the scheme: “The manager said he believes Suge Knight and Big U are actually working together to extort money from rappers and artists,” Biddle reported.
The imposing former defensive end may not have dangled Vanilla Ice off a balcony in the ‘90s to make him sign away the rights to the pop hit “Ice Ice Baby,” but Friday’s nearly 300-page motion submitted by Deputy Dist. Atty. Cynthia J. Barnes details Knight’s alleged recent criminal history and paints a damning portrait of the onetime hip-hop mogul.
Here are some of the motion’s highlights that allegedly justified that $25 million bail. It should be noted that the alleged incidents contained in the DA’s motion are merely reported allegations, and that no charges were brought against Knight in the below cases.
A man described as Knight’s bodyguard became involved in a verbal dispute with a woman outside a party at the Four Seasons Hotel in Los Angeles. Under Knight’s instructions to “fucking punch her ass,” the bodyguard allegedly punched the woman in her left eye with a closed fist. Knight reportedly gave conflicting reports to police about his involvement and proximity to the altercation.
After a process server served Knight with legal papers, Knight allegedly threatened a victim via phone saying, “I’ll send someone over to fuck with your wife.”
Knight made numerous phone calls to a Las Vegas area woman threatening to show up at her house “and deal with her and her husband in a violent way.”
After filing a report against Knight for making criminal threats, a victim was visited at his business by Knight and two companions, where Knight allegedly directly ignored a restraining order, telling the victim “I’m going to fuck you up,” and threatened to go to the victim’s home “with his boys.”
Straight from the court docs: “Knight confronted Victim 5 at a bus stop. Knight threatened Victim 5 with a firearm and demanded the victim sign over his rights to a pending documentary. At gunpoint, Knight told Victim 5 that if he did not sign over the rights, he would kill him.”
Per a DEA report cited in the motion, a confidential source reported meeting with Knight at least twice about a potential drug deal. The source said Knight showed up with several armed buddies and said, “the police cannot catch him (Knight) and he would put them away before they put him away.” Knight also told the source he had “access to opium from China” and that one of his associates was an ex-cop.
Knight allegedly shook down a victim who owned a custom car worth approximately $75,000, ordering him to sell it to his associates for $25,000. The victim “sold the car for the reduced price in fear of retaliation from Knight.”
In a public altercation with a valet attendant, Knight yelled obscenities at the man so severe, he felt threatened and intimidated and “believed Knight was going to assault him.”
Appearing in court, Knight allegedly left a female victim visibly shaken when he leaned over and said, “Bitch you dead.” Officers detained him, but Knight was released after 15 minutes.
In a domestic incident reported later to Ventura Police, a woman became concerned for her own safety after Knight allegedly followed her to her car after an altercation and attempted to remove a DVD player from her vehicle, then kicked the passenger door and hit the window when she would not let him in.
Knight popped into a victim’s place of work, demanding $25,000 for prior representation, according to a police report. But the victim said he did not owe Knight any money and refused. Knight threatened, “I am going to get a hundred niggers to come down and mess you up if you don’t give me my money,” according to the report. The victim called 911, fearing he’d be attacked in his own office in front of witnesses, and Knight left.
On August 28, 2008, Knight allegedly became involved in a violent fight while driving with his girlfriend, Melissa Isaac, after leaving a Las Vegas strip club. He punched her as he drove and, the initial police report says, “she grabbed the steering wheel hoping to wreck the vehicle so that she could escape him.” When he pulled over with a flat tire, she ran but Knight tackled her to the ground, then allegedly punched and kicked her repeatedly. “She blacked out and didn’t know where she was and that’s when she realized where she was she was getting dragged by her hair and she was completely undressed from the neck down,” the report said.
Las Vegas Metro Police found Knight punching Isaac while holding a 2-inch knife in his hand, reportedly under the influence of ecstasy and hydrocodone pills, which were both found on his person according to the police report. Charges were dropped when Isaac couldn’t be found to testify. “God is good,” Knight said of the development.
Knight and three other suspects allegedly followed a man home from the recording studio where he worked, blocking his car with theirs inside a secure underground parking garage. The victim said he identified Knight from a previous threat Knight had made that had also been reported to the police. Knight ordered the man to his knees and allegedly simulated a gun, saying, “If you jump or run, I’m going to fucking blow your fucking brains out,” the victim told police. Knight ordered a female suspect to punch the victim in the face, took his cell phone, and demanded he give him another contact’s phone number. Knight and his accomplices left after searching the victim for money. According to the police report, the FBI was also on the scene with the LA Sheriff’s Department working on a federal case against Knight.
“You owe me money, I’m going to collect my money… if you don’t get me my money, I am going to get my goons to get you,” Knight allegedly warned a victim who did not owe Knight money, according to the motion, which adds: “In fact Knight owes Victim $110,000 for custom items purchased from Victim’s business.”
Knight and 8-9 other suspects demanded information from a victim after forcing him into a parking lot, where witnesses say they them beat the man. They allegedly took jewelry and a cell phone totaling $92,500 in value, according to the motion.
Knight and three suspects allegedly beat a man in his own yard. One suspect pointed a gun at the victim’s head as a “warning” before hitting him with it. They beat him and stole his necklace and watch, then returned while the man was in the hospital to warn his wife, “How is your man, you better not call the police, Suge wants to work this out, what happened earlier was only a message. If I wanted him to, he could have killed your man, we also don’t want anything to happen to your kid.”
Previous victim found himself at a gas station later when Knight allegedly rolled up, pointed a gun at him, and said, “I hope your bitch ass ain’t thinking about going to court on me… I be over at your house later to kill you and your family.”
Knight then allegedly drove to the same man’s house and shouted, “I am out—I’m gonna kill you.”
Knight called nightlife impresario Sam Nazarian’s office, allegedly screaming obscenities and demanding $90,000 in a debt repayment he said Nazarian was responsible for. The nightclub owner and restaurateur said he knew of Knight’s reputation and paid him off out of fear that he’d show up unannounced one day, according to the motion.
Knight and a few friends showed up at someone’s office to shake him down for cash, reportedly saying, “I’m going to punish you, I’m Suge Knight, you know what I mean.”
Knight confronted a man at a parking valet stand who he’d worked with at Death Row Records, according to police reports. Prosecutors say he demanded $300,000-$400,000 he said he was owed. He threatened to assault the man if he did not pay. The man walked away and received a phone call from Knight a few minutes later and threatened to have people “take care” of the victim, causing the man to fear for his life.
Knight went to a man’s home and threatened, “You have been giving out information about me and I am going to fuck you up.” He also stated “I am gonna have my guys kill you,” hit the victim numerous times, and took $280 from his pocket, according to the motion.
Knight and comedian Katt Williams were involved in a 2012 fight outside an L.A. nightclub in which police say Knight punched at least one person, according to the motion. Knight and Williams then allegedly fled in Knight’s SUV with Knight at the wheel. Then, police say, Knight drove directly into a crowd of people, hitting at least one person.
Knight allegedly demanded money from a man who told police he did not owe money to Knight. Knight grabbed him by the back of the neck and said, “I’ll shoot you. Let me tell you how this business works. Get me my money now my mans, I’ll shoot you.” Knight also punched the victim in the face, fracturing his jaw, and kneed him in the rib cage. Knight then had a female suspect slap the man in the face and stated, “I will kill you. I will have my girl shoot you right here.”
Ordered to leave a weed store, Knight allegedly threatened to come back and retaliate. “I’m going to catch up with you after work, I’m Suge Knight and I’m gonna come back with my homeboys and shoot up the place,” he said, according to a police report, which stated that he threatened to come back with his Bloods brethren before punching an employee in the face and fleeing on foot.
Knight allegedly forcefully grabbed the cell phone of one victim, told them, “I should fucking kill you” and “I’m going to kill you,” and forced them into an alley at gunpoint.