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Patti LaBelle files countersuit over alleged airport beating by her bodyguards

06/29/2011 by Carollyn Nguyen

Patti LaBelle has filed a counter lawsuit against a West Point cadet and former Army football player who claims she ordered her bodyguards to beat him up outside a Houston airport terminal as he waited for a ride home.

In the counter lawsuit, the R&B singer alleges that the 23-year-old cadet, Richard King, attacked her bodyguards after hurling racial insults at her, according to the Associated Press. LaBelle's lawyers also accuse King of being intoxicated. They said he screamed obscenities and tried to get into LaBelle's limo. The countersuit said King was asked politely to walk away.

King says three of LaBelle's bodyguards attacked him while he was waiting for family to pick him up outside one of the terminals at Bush Intercontinental Airport on March 11 after returning to his hometown while on break from West Point.

King told KTRK Television, the Houston-based sister station of KABC Television, the parent company of OnTheRedCarpet.com, that he was on spring break and came to Houston to visit his family. He said he was on the phone with his brother, unaware he was standing next to LaBelle's luggage.

King's lawsuit states that "LaBelle lowered the window of her limousine and gave a command to her bodyguards."

"I pretty much got jumped," King said. "I really don't even know why, and on top of that, it's causing a lot of trouble up here because of the false police report that they had reported."

King's attorney, John Raley, rejected LaBelle's claims in the countersuit, saying that her accusations are part her "attack" on "an innocent man by telling the same false story they told the police," according to the Associated Press.

"Several eyewitnesses saw and clearly heard the incident. The counter-claim is completely without merit," the wire service quoted Raley as saying.

The entire incident was recorded by a security camera. The video, which has no audio, shows King talking on a cellphone when one of LaBelle's bodyguards appeared to push up against him, the Associated Press reports. It appears that King then pushed him back, but his lawyers said that he was just protecting himself from a punch.

King's suit was filed in a Houston civil court, but the case has been moved to federal court by LaBelle's attorneys, Raley said.

LaBelle, 67, whose real name is Patricia Louise Holt Edwards, was the lead singer of Patti LaBelle and the Bluebelles (which was eventually shortened to Labelle) for 16 years. She launched a solo career in 1977 and performed songs like "The Best Is Yet To Come," "If You Asked Me To," "New Attitude" and "You Are My Friend."

The legendary singer recently was honored with the Lifetime Achievement Award at the 2011 BET Awards.

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