Appearing remotely from a neon white painted cinder block room, imprisoned Death Row Records founder Suge Knight testified for the first time Wednesday on the day in early 2015 he tried – but failed – to get a meeting with Dr. Dre in an office for the film. Straight outta Compton and ended up ramming his truck into two men outside a nearby burger stand, killing one of them.
Knight, 57, is currently serving a 28-year prison sentence for the fatal incident at Tam’s Burgers in Compton, California that claimed the life of local businessman Terry Carter on January 29, 2015. Prosecutors initially charged Knight with murder, saying he reversed his Ford Raptor truck before intentionally shifting gears, hitting the gas and mowing Carter down. The case avoided trial when Knight accepted a plea deal and was convicted of intentional homicide in September 2018.
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Knight’s long-awaited and sometimes contradictory sworn testimony was shown live to jurors at a Compton courthouse on Wednesday as the centerpiece of his defense in the wrongful death lawsuit brought by Carter’s wife and daughters.
Wearing a gold chain over his blue prison uniform and drinking what looked like iced coffee from a large plastic cup, Knight claimed he practically fell on the Straight outta Compton production base camp that day and wasn’t looking for a confrontation with Dre — even though Knight testified under oath that police told him Dre hired the man who shot him seven times on the pre-party. -Chris Brown’s VMA six months earlier in the summer of 2014.
“I was told about it,” Knight said Wednesday when asked about the alleged murder-for-hire contract. “People showed me checks, canceled checks.”
For his part, Dre denied the savage accusation. “Given that Dre has had no interaction with Suge since he left Death Row Records in 1996, we hope that Suge’s attorney has plenty of insurance against malicious prosecution,” the attorney for Dre in a 2016 statement given when an attorney allegedly representing Knight dropped the allegation in a now-defunct civil court counterclaim.
In his testimony Wednesday, Knight said he had never worked with the attorney who filed the countersuit, but he didn’t shy away from bringing up the subject of the alleged hitmen. He claimed he ended up at the film’s production office shortly before Carter’s death because he was driving ‘around the corner’ and an unidentified person told him to ‘stop by’ to chat. of a “situation” with Dre.
“Dr. Dre – we’ve been really good friends for years. I actually know his kids, he knows my kids. And I was told he paid some guys to hurt me,” said Knight.” I didn’t believe it because the authorities lie. So I went up there. … I was going to talk to him and say, ‘Hey man, I’m not going to react to what the authorities say you have something to do with me getting shot I just want to make you aware that they’re saying that, that they’re broadcasting it.
Knight claimed he was not at base camp to complain that the film’s script portrayed him as a “bodyguard” or to demand money for the use of his name and likeness at the screen. He said that might happen — but he mostly wanted a face-to-face with Dre to let him know what the police were supposed to say. He said that when he heard from Dre and his Straight outta Compton co-producer Ice Cube was too “busy” for a reunion, no big deal as he was planning on taking his 5-year-old son to a playroom. Knight said he was voluntarily leaving base camp when someone “caught up” with him and said, “Hey, Cube wants you back (back) because we tried to catch you to take care of you.
Knight testified that when he asked about Dre specifically and said he didn’t want to wait all day, things started to go wrong. Cle “Bone” Sloan, a gang member working for film security, took offense to a joke he made and began to get “aggressive,” Knight said. Around the same time, someone tried to put something on his windshield, he testified.
“Have you ever had a restraining order that Dr. Dre had on you?” Knight’s attorney David Kenner asked after the puzzling mention of the windshield.
“No,” Knight replied. “Never.”
Knight testified that after leaving the film’s production office for its family outing, he received a call from Carter, a longtime friend. He told jurors that Carter invited him to a special meeting with Dre at the home of Dwayne “Knob” Johnson across from Tam’s.
“He said, ‘They’re trying to take care of you, to square some things. Dr is going to Knob. Come meet me there. He said, “Dude, they’re trying to give you bread,” Knight said, saying he was okay, turned around and walked towards the place.
According to Knight, he drove alongside Carter’s gray station wagon on a street bordering Tam’s and was ambushed with a gun. He said Sloan jumped over a wall bordering Tam’s parking lot, brandished a gun and began punching him through his truck’s open window.
Lance Behringer, the attorney representing Carter’s widow, Lillian, and her two daughters, Nekaya and Crystal, questioned Knight on the claim that he “feared for his life” and was acting in self-defense when he shot its engine and exploded on both Sloan and Carter, killing Carter.
Behringer read a transcript of Knight’s sentencing in which a judge warned Knight that his “no contest” plea was the same as a guilty plea to intentional homicide. Behringer also pointed out that former Knight attorney Matthew Fletcher recently pleaded guilty to conspiracy and perjury after prosecutors said he and Knight conspired to bribe people to say they saw gunmen. confront Knight at Tam’s.
“Isn’t it true that instead of driving off to 142nd (Street), after backing out of Tam’s parking lot, fearing for your life, you decided to go back to Tam’s parking lot?” asked Behringer.
Knight replied that fear “kinda freezes you”, so he drove forward, backward, then forward again.
Behringer then confronted Knight with the transcript of his first police interview after Knight turned himself in for hours of questioning following Carter’s death.
“Nowhere in this interview with Sgt. Biddle did you ever mention Bone Sloan pointing a gun at you,” the attorney said.
“Where I come from, Compton, and how my parents taught me, to be a child of God is not a matter of an eye for an eye. … I wasn’t going to say, “Hey, this person put a gun on me and tried to kill me,” and take them into custody. But at the same time, once I found out they gave Bone immunity, and he couldn’t get in trouble, if I told the truth, nothing could happen to him, that’s another story,” Knight said.
“Let me see if I can understand. Sloan, the man you say pulled a gun on you and tried to kill you, you tried to protect him by not telling Sgt. Biddle that he had a gun there? Is it correct ? asked Behringer.
“We are all friends. There are different rules that we follow – that you don’t personally try to take any of your homeboys into custody, no matter what. So when he got immunity and he can’t get in trouble, that’s a difference,” Knight said.
“And you want this jury to believe that Bone Sloan was there to kill you, and that he had a gun that he intended to use to kill you, but instead of using that gun, he decided to throw punches. Is that true?” asked Behringer.
“That’s not true at all,” Knight said, launching into one of his most convoluted responses. “The truth is this: Tam’s is called ‘Murder Burger’ for a reason. One thing we all know is that you can’t do anything near Tam’s house because of the cameras. …No one drew their gun near Tam’s house. Everyone knows there are cameras. Ask anyone, they call Tam’s “Murder Burger”. A lot of people who didn’t know they had cameras there, they’re still in jail today.
“I hadn’t done anything wrong to these guys, to make them want to kill me, but there was a deal,” Knight added as Carter’s daughter Nekaya – who sat in the courtroom with his mother and sister – shook his head. of disgust.
The Carter family filed the underlying lawsuit in June 2015. It initially named Dr. Dre, Ice Cube and NBC Universal among the defendants, saying they all knew Knight opposed Straight outta Compton and intended to commit acts of violence on film sets. The family alleged that the producers hired Sloan to stand up to Knight’s abuse and then negligently handled him.
Dre and Cube, born Andre Young and O’Shea Jackson respectively, successfully fought the lawsuit with NBC Universal.
“The court cannot understand how Knight’s reckless and allegedly criminal attempt to run Bone over with his truck later that afternoon was foreseeable with an ‘extraordinarily high degree of foreseeability’ such that a bond may be imposed on defendants,” the Los Angeles County Superior Court said. Judge Brian Currey wrote in a September 2016 ruling granting the parties’ objections. “The alleged fact that the defendants ordered Bone to ‘take control of the situation’ and arrange a meeting with Carter does not make it highly foreseeable that Bone would ‘flank’ and ‘ambush’ Knight by pursuing a personal fight with Knight. in the presence of Bone’s associates or that Knight would attempt to recklessly and criminally attack Bone with his vehicle, or that Carter would be in probable danger.
Knight appeared on camera Wednesday walking with and without a cane. He testified that he was “100% blind” in his left eye.
“Don’t you agree, Mr. Knight, that if you’re driving without a valid driver’s license, you’re blind in one eye, and you run over and kill someone on the sidewalk, you should to be responsible ? asked Behringer.
Knight replied that he could “see enough” to drive. “Like right now I can tilt my head the right way, I can see you, but in a different way, I can’t,” he said.
The Carter family’s civil case, claiming more than $10 million in damages, is expected to last until next week before going to the jury.
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