Singer Patti LaBelle testifies former cadet said racial slur, punched her son before bodyguard attack


She's known for her soulful voice and original style, but LaBelle is now in the news after her bodyguard allegedly beat up a then West Point cadet at Bush Intercontinental Airport in 2011.

That bodyguard, 45-year-old Efrem Holmes, is now on trial, accused of assaulting now 26-year-old Richard King.

LaBelle took the stand Thursday, and her testimony so far has been extremely dramatic.

She said King called her a "black (expletive)" and punched her son before her bodyguard punched him. She said King was extremely scary and that he was just drunkenly staggering around so Holmes had to do his job, she says, and defend both himself as well as the singer and her family.

"If you assault first, then you're going to get it next. He hit my son first," LaBelle said.

She later added, "I don't remember anything after my son got punched in the eye."

LaBelle also had high words for Holmes. She said, "He's very cuddly, very nice, very gentle ... very, very long-tempered."

Earlier in the afternoon, it was King on the stand. He admitted he had a blood alcohol level of .28 at the time of the incident.

When the prosecutor asked him, "Do you have any specific memory of things that you said between the time you walked out of the airport on the cell phone and when you woke up in the hospital?"

King answered, "No."

A witness also testified seeing an ambulance take King away.

"I think somebody was helping him with a cloth to his head. He had a lot of blood all over him," the witness said.

In the video, you can see King walking out of the airport. But you can't see what led up to the physical altercation.

Hospital records show he needed three staples in his head.

"The defense is going to want the prosecution to portray him as a perfect young gentleman that was serving his country and was in college and doing the best he could," KTRK legal analyst Joel Androphy said. "You gotta be careful there because if you try to go too far and you try to bring his whole character in, the defense is going to be able to destroy that character."

King has filed civil lawsuits against the bodyguards, as well as LaBelle.

The trial is scheduled to wrap up sometime next week.

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