Patti LaBelle Need Not Face a Retrial

     HOUSTON (CN) – A former Army cadet who claims he was roughed up by singer Patti LaBelle’s entourage will not get another chance to prove they assaulted him, a federal judge ruled.
     Richard King sued LaBelle in June 2011 in Harris County Court, claiming the pop icon ordered her entourage to assault him because he was standing too close to her luggage at George Bush Intercontinental Airport.
     The fight happened as King waited for his family to pick him up after arriving in Houston for Spring Break on March 11, 2011.
     Also named as defendants were LaBelle’s son and manager, Zuri Edwards, her 400-pound bodyguard, Efrem Holmes, and her hairstylist, Norma Harris.
     The case was removed to Federal Court and went to trial before a jury on Sept. 16.
     LaBelle’s defense attorney Geoffrey Bracken told jurors that King had initiated the confrontation by punching Edwards, shouting racial epithets at LaBelle and trying to open her limo door, The Associated Press reported.
     King’s attorney John Raley acknowledged to jurors that King’s blood alcohol level was 0.28 at the airport, more than three times the legal limit to drive, but said King was not threatening anyone when he was attacked.
     Raley played jurors security footage of the scrum that shows Holmes slamming King like a rag doll against a concrete pillar at the airport.
     King reportedly suffered brain injuries that forced him to drop out of West Point.
     After a six-day trial and nearly 12 hours of deliberations, the jury found LaBelle and her co-defendants not guilty.
     King filed a motion for new trial, claiming the jury erred by finding that Harris, LaBelle’s hairstylist, had not assaulted him.
     Seizing on Harris’ testimony that she pushed him, King said in his motion that her confession alone establishes she assaulted him.
     But U.S. District Judge Keith Ellison, who presided over the trial, dismissed the motion Friday.
     “The fact that Ms. Harris testified that she ‘pushed’ Mr. King is, taken alone, not sufficient to establish that she is liable for assault against him. As defendants note, mere physical contact is not sufficient to establish an assault,” Ellison wrote in a 6-page order.
     In his motion, King also objected to Ellison’s instruction to the jury that “they could presume the reasonableness of a defendant’s actions if the defendant ‘knew or had reason to know that King unlawfully and with force entered, or was attempting to enter, the defendant’s occupied vehicle.'”
     Ellison, however, found the instruction reasonable.
     “There was evidence that King attempted entry into Ms. LaBelle’s locked vehicle shortly before the altercation occurred. This is sufficient to support the instruction,” the judge wrote.
     Raley did not respond to a request for comment.

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