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Friday
Jun032011

Patti LaBelle Sued By West Pointer Over Guard Attack

Kris Connor/Getty Images(HOUSTON) -- Never come between the "Godmother of Soul" and her luggage. That's the lesson a West Point cadet says he learned at Houston airport when he charges Patti LaBelle's security guards roughed him up.

Richard King, 23, is suing LaBelle over the incident, captured on surveillance video last March 11 at Bush Intercontinental Airport.

King, a Houston resident who is a senior at the military academy, had come home for spring break when he wandered close to LaBelle's limousine. He was talking to his brother on his cellphone when her bodyguards "sprang into action," according to the civil suit he filed this week against the singer and her entourage.

"Apparently defendant LaBelle believed King was standing too close to her (no doubt expensive) luggage, even though he was oblivious to her presence," the lawsuit says. "LaBelle lowered the window of her limousine and gave a command to a trio of bodyguards. " The suit says LaBelle "watched the vicious assault, with approval, from her limousine."

The video shows King being punched and falling against a concrete pillar. He tries three times to get up and finally moves away from the scene. After an ambulance takes him away, the video shows Houston cops posing with LaBelle for a photo. Blood is seen on the ground nearby.

There were no arrests after the incident. The limousine driver, Zuri Edwards, 37 -- LaBelle's son -- made a complaint against King but declined to press charges, according to Jody Silva, a spokeswoman for the Houston police department.

The police incident report, based on Edwards' complaint, says that King was belligerent and was harassing the occupants of the limo. When he was asked to step away, he struck Edwards, and a witness then pushed King, the incident report says. Edwards and the police officer who came to the scene "smelled the odor of alcohol on the suspect," said Jody Silva, a spokeswoman for Houston police.

King had a couple of drinks on the plane, according to his lawyer, John Raley. "He was in no way impaired," Raley says, and never hit Edwards. He said King, a defensive back on the West Point football team whose grandfather was a well-known college football coach in Texas, suffered a concussion, now has staples in the back of his head and probably will not be able to play football again.

West Point has taken disciplinary action against King after they were notified of the incident by Houston cops, Raley says. He is being busted to private and deployed to active duty. He had been scheduled to graduate in December with the rank of second lieutenant.

LaBelle's publicist and agent did not respond to a request for comment.

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