A West Point cadet has filed suit against Patti LaBelle claiming the R&B singer commanded her body guards to viciously beat him at an airport in Texas.
The incident, captured on surveillance video, was posted to YouTube yesterday and shows a violent altercation followed by police posing for pictures with the Philadelphia soul singer.
A publicist for LaBelle could not immediately be reached for comment.
Richard C. King, 23, a senior at the U.S. Military Academy, was on Spring Break on March 11 when he flew home to Houston.
King was waiting for his brother and father to pick him up at George H.W. Bush International Airport when LaBelle's entourage passed on their way to their stretch limousine, according to the suit filed in Harris County, Texas.
LaBelle, 67, was scheduled to give a concert the next night in nearby Louisiana.
King was speaking to his brother on a cellphone when he wandered near LaBelle's limo. The suit states he wasn't paying attention to the singer or her bodyguards and had his back turned towards them.
John W. Raley of the Houston law firm Raley & Bowick, said King was oblivious to what was going on nearby.
"He didn't know who Patti LaBelle was, she's not in his generation," he said.
What triggered the altercation is in dispute.
"Apparently, Defendant Labelle believed King was standing too close to her (no doubt expensive) luggage, even though he was oblivious to her presence and the danger he was in," the suit states.
"LaBelle lowered the window of her limousine and gave a command to her body guards. They sprang into action," the suit states.
An airport surveillance video captured much of what happened next.
King, in a yellow shirt, is shown gesturing toward the limo while on his phone. Suddenly, two large men push him back about 6 feet and punch him in the face. A third person, a woman, joins them. King slams into a concrete pillar and falls to the ground bleeding. King attempts to stand several times but collapses. After rising to his feet, he runs back into the airport, leaving what appears to be a trail of blood behind.
The suit claims King, a defensive back on West Point's football team, never struck back.
Later on the video, King is shown with a large white bandage around his head hugging his mother and father. LaBelle is seen posing with police officers near her limo. After her limo pulls away, a lone janitor mops up what appears to be blood.
Raley said King suffered a concussion and needed staples to repair his scalp.
In a police report, LaBelle's son and limousine driver, Zuri Edwards, told investigators that King had been verbally abusive and then hit him after being asked to move aside, according to the Houston Chronicle.
King's suit - which names three body guards, LaBelle, a taxi dispatcher and the airport - seeks unspecified damages.