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Questions surround investigation involving LaBelle

Friday, June 03, 2011

We're learning new information about a shocking confrontation between a West Point cadet and famed singer Patti LaBelle's entourage at a Houston airport, as questions linger over how police handled the situation.

A man was punched and pushed to the ground, then taken to the hospital bleeding. In the end, no charges were filed, and at least one officer got a picture with LaBelle. We've learned police are now reviewing how officers handled themselves that night.

Sources close to the investigation say that right now there is not an official internal affairs investigation. Rather, supervisors over the airport division of Houston police are looking carefully at everything that went on that night. They're looking at the video, which, apparently a lot of other people may not have done until recently.

The surveillance video showing West Point Cadet Richard King, wearing a yellow shirt, being beaten up by Patti LaBelle's bodyguards has sparked a lot of questions as to why no criminal charges were ever filed in the case.

KTRK Legal Analyst Joel Androphy said, "He didn't have any type of weapons, he's waiting at the luggage area -- it's shocking to see what happened there. What's even more shocking that police didn't do anything about it."

Now that the video has been made public, HPD says it is conducting an internal review. Police sources tell us they are evaluating why the initial report listed King as the suspect, and why, after he was carted off in an ambulance with blood everywhere, that Houston police officers were seen taking photos with LaBelle.

"If they're taking a picture with Patti LaBelle, who is a witness to this case, along with her three bodyguards, that is improper behavior," Androphy said.

What happened outside the airport terminal will have a lifetime of implications for this young man. On Friday West Point told Eyewitness News that King will be leaving the academy without graduating. His only option is to go through a mentorship program where he will have to spend at least a year serving as an enlisted member of the military, before he can reapply for admission

"It was vicious. It was brutal," said King's attorney John Raley. "It was one of the worst things I've ever seen."

LaBelle's representatives are aware of the lawsuit, but so far they have issued no comments. Houston police won't say whether their officers even looked at the video before making the report -- a report that may have derailed a young military career.

Androphy said, "It's hard to believe the officers picked up the phone to call West Point. There's no reason to do that at the time."

It's uncertain who actually notified West Point. The lawyers say it was someone within the Houston Police Department. HPD says they don't believe that is the case.

It does, however, appear that the initial officer who made the report ever looked at the video, and that is something that is being scrutinized.

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bush intercontinental airport, local, miya shay
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