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Cadet suing Patti LaBelle talks to ABC13

Tuesday, June 07, 2011

The West Point cadet who is suing singer Patti LaBelle is back in Houston and he's talking to Eyewitness News.

Surveillance video, which aired first on Eyewitness News, shows LaBelle's bodyguards attacking 23-year-old Richard King outside Bush Intercontinental Airport. He was punched and shoved by three members of LaBelle's entourage. King ended up with a concussion -- and he's suing.

King was eager to explain why he's suing the singer and why it's important to clear his name.

"It's shocking; I can't believe something like that happened. I can't believe they felt the need to have three of them attack me," King said.

In his first on-camera interview, King explains why he believes he is the victim of assault.

"I just felt it was very unnecessary," he said.

King says on March 11 at Houston Intercontinental Airport, he was on the phone with his brother. Distracted by the conversation, King says he never saw it coming.

"The guy came from out of nowhere and I didn't see it coming, and by the time that he had hit me, my head already had been jerked back and it didn't seem like I had enough time to react to anything," he said.

What King says he didn't know was that the people who punched him work for LaBelle. The international singer was in the limo and King was standing next to her luggage when he was beat up.

"I wasn't trying to fight anybody at all," King said.

In their report, HPD characterizes King as a suspect who was harassing LaBelle and her entourage, even though the surveillance video shows otherwise. With no arrests and no charges filed against King, Houston police called West Point, where King was a senior. As a result, West Point kicked King out and he will not graduate with his class.

King is suing LaBelle and her employees who hit him. His lawyer has asked for criminal charges to be filed against LaBelle's limo driver and bodyguard. Houston police now are reviewing the case.

"I feel justice wasn't really served. I mean, the police report was false and I really feel like there's wasn't enough digging going on to actually figure out what had happened," King said.

LaBelle and her representatives have declined our repeated requests for comment.

Meanwhile, West Point has not told us whether it has reviewed the surveillance video. They did issue a statement saying it took appropriate action in punishing King. King says he's bound by the academy's code of conduct to meet that punishment, which includes up to 18 months in active duty in Iraq or Afghanistan. He's still waiting for his deployment orders.

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