Two charged in case involving Patti LaBelle

July 8, 2011 8:28:51 PM PDT
It all began with a video showing a scuffle between Patti LaBelle's entourage and a West Point cadet. At first, it was a case of he said, she said. Now two people have been charged with a crime.

We were the first ones with these charging documents on Friday afternoon. We can tell you LaBelle's hairdresser and bodyguard have warrants out for their arrest; both are charged with assault even though the original story to police painted a much different picture.

There was no audio of the March 11 incident at Bush Intercontinental Airport, but according to court documents, the video speaks for itself. Patti LaBelle's bodyguard, Efrem Holmes, originally told Houston police he was just defending LaBelle's son. After watching the video, three months later, an officer reached a different conclusion.

In the video, you see West Point cadet Richard King in yellow on the phone near LaBelle's limo outside Terminal C. King exchanges words with her son who is also her driver. Her son bumps King. The bodyguard then hits him and both he and LaBelle's hairdresser, 63-year-old Norma Harris, push him into a concrete pillar, causing him to fall to the ground with a head injury.

LaBelle's entourage was the first to contact police that day claiming assault. Attorney Geoffrey Berg says the new charges don't back that up.

"Everybody is entitled to the presumption of innocence, but at this point in the court of public opinion, it looks like the weight of the evidence is on the side of the cadet," Berg said.

Because of the incident, King told us he was suspended from West Point. The academy was reportedly tipped off by HPD. The video shows an officer posing with LaBelle after the incident.

King's attorney declined an on-camera interview and also declined to talk about King's future with the academy, sending a statement instead that reads in part:

"Now that they (Harris and Holmes) have been formally charged, we have confidence that justice will be served."

"I don't know anything about no charge honey," Harris said.

Reached by phone in New York, LaBelle's hairdresser told us she wasn't aware of the charge before she hung up.

The bodyguard didn't answer.

HPD is still investigating internally to determine whether the responding officers handled the incident properly.

The cadet is suing LaBelle and her people, she is countersuing. These assault charges will likely hurt her position, says the attorney we spoke to on Friday night. King is still suspended from West Point, and we couldn't reach anyone there to ask how the charges may affect that.

The bodyguard and hairdresser both have the same Houston attorney and she never responded to our call or email.

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