Appearing remotely from a neon white painted concrete room, imprisoned Death Row Records founder Suge Knight first testified on Wednesday about the day in early 2015 when he tried – but failed – to get a meeting with The Doctor. Dre in an office for the movie. straight from Compton and ended up driving his truck into two men outside a nearby diner, killing one of them.
Knight, 57, is now serving a 28-year prison sentence for the deadly incident at Tam’s Burgers in Compton, California that took the life of local businessman Terry Carter on January 29, 2015. Prosecutors originally charged Knight with murder, alleging that he reversed his Ford Raptor truck before intentionally shifting gears, stepping on the gas and knocking Carter down. The case avoided trial when Knight accepted a plea deal and was convicted of manslaughter in September 2018.
Knight’s long-awaited and sometimes contradictory sworn testimony was shown live to jurors in a Compton courthouse 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 appeared to be iced coffee from a large plastic cup, Knight claimed he practically tripped over the straight from Compton production base 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 at Chris Brown’s pre-VMA party six months earlier that summer. of 2014.
“I was told about it,” Knight testified on Wednesday when asked about the alleged murder-for-hire contract. “People would show me checks, canceled checks.”
For his part, Dre denied the wild accusation. “Given that Dre has not had any interactions with Suge since leaving Death Row Records in 1996, we expect Suge’s attorney has plenty of insurance against malicious prosecution,” Dre’s attorney said in a 2016 statement given when an attorney allegedly representing Knight dropped the allegation in a now-defunct cross-civil court complaint.
In his testimony on Wednesday, Knight said he never worked with the attorney who filed the cross-complaint, but he did not shy away from the topic of the alleged killers. He claimed he ended up at the film’s production office shortly before Carter’s death because he was driving “in the area” and an unnamed person told him to “drop by” to discuss a “situation” with Dre.
“Dr. Dre – we’ve been good friends for years. In fact, I know his children, he knows my children. And I was told that he paid some guys to harm me,” Knight testified. “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 about you having something to do with me being shot. I just want you to know they’re saying it, spreading 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 screen image. He said it might come up – but he mostly wanted to come face-to-face with Dre so he would know what the police were supposedly saying. He claimed that when he heard Dre and his straight from Compton Co-producer Ice Cube was too “busy” for a reunion, no big deal because he had plans to take his 5-year-old son to an arcade. Knight said he was voluntarily leaving base camp when someone caught up to him and said, “Hey, Cube wants you to come back because we’re trying to get him to take care of you.”
Knight testified that when he asked specifically about Dre and said he didn’t want to wait all day, things started to go wrong. Cle “Bone” Sloan, a gang member who works in security on the film, took offense at 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 been served a restraining order that Dr. Dre supposedly had on you?” Knight’s attorney, David Kenner, asked after the confusing mention of the windshield.
“No,” Knight replied. “Never.”
Knight testified that after he left the film’s production office for his family outing, he received a call from Carter, a longtime friend. He told jurors Carter invited him to a special meeting with Dre at Dwayne “Knob” Johnson’s house, across the street from Tam.
“He said, ‘They’re trying to take care of you, fix some things. Dre is going to stop by the Knob’s. Come meet me there. He said, ‘Man, they’re trying to give you some bread,’ Knight testified, saying he agreed, made a U-turn and headed to the scene.
According to Knight, he drove alongside Carter’s gray pickup truck on a street bordering Tam’s and was the target of an armed ambush. He said Sloan jumped over a wall bordering Tam’s parking lot, brandished a gun and began punching him through the open window of his truck.
Lance Behringer, the attorney representing Carter’s widow Lillian and their two daughters, Nekaya and Crystal, questioned Knight about the allegation that he “feared for his life” and was acting in self-defense when he started his engine and exploded in Sloan and Carter, killing Carter.
Behringer read a transcript of Knight’s sentence in which a judge warned Knight that his “no contest” claim was the same as a guilty plea for manslaughter. Behringer also pointed out that Knight’s former attorney Matthew Fletcher recently pleaded guilty to conspiracy and perjury after prosecutors said he and Knight planned to bribe people to say they saw gunmen confront Knight at Tam’s.
“Isn’t it correct that instead of exiting at 142 (Street), after having left Tam’s parking lot, fearing for your life, you decided to go back to Tam’s parking lot?” asked Behringer.
Knight replied that fear “kind of freezes you”, so that’s why he drove forward, backward and then forward again.
Behringer then confronted Knight with the transcript of his first police interview after Knight turned himself in for questioning hours after Carter’s death.
“Nowhere in that interview with Sgt. Biddle, did you ever mention Bone Sloan pointing a gun at you? said the lawyer.
“Where I come from, Compton, and as my parents taught me, being a child of God, it’s not about 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 put them in custody. But at the same time, once I heard that they gave Bone immunity, and he can’t get in trouble, if I told the truth, nothing could happen to him, that’s a different story,” Knight stated.
“Let me see if I can understand. Sloan, the man you believe pointed a gun at you and was trying to kill you, you were trying to protect him by not telling Sgt. Biddle that he had a gun there? Is that accurate?” asked Behringer.
“All of us friends. There are different rules that we follow – that you don’t personally try to take one of your bros into custody, no matter what the situation is. So when he has immunity and can’t get into trouble, it’s a difference,” Knight testified.
“And you want this jury to believe that Bone Sloan was there to kill him, and he had a gun that he intended to use to kill him, but instead of using that gun, he decided to throw punches. Is that true?” asked Behringer.
“That’s not true,” Knight said, launching into one of his more complicated responses. “The truth is, Tam’s is called ‘Murder Burger’ for a reason. One thing we all know is that you can’t do anything in the Tam area because of the cameras. …No one pulled their gun next to Tam’s. Everyone knows there are cameras. Ask anyone, they call it Tam’s ‘Murder Burger’. A lot of people who didn’t know they had cameras there are still in prison today.”
“I didn’t do anything wrong with these guys, for them to want to kill me, but there was a contract,” Knight added as Carter’s daughter Nekaya – who was sitting in the courtroom with her mother and sister – shook her head. in disgust.
The Carter family filed the underlying lawsuit in June 2015. Initially, they named Dr. Dre, Ice Cube and NBC Universal among the defendants, claiming that everyone knew that Knight was opposed to straight from Compton and intended to commit violence on the film sets. The family alleged that the producers hired Sloan to tackle Knight’s violence and then negligently managed him.
Dre and Cube, born Andre Young and O’Shea Jackson respectively, successfully fought the complaint along with NBC Universal.
“The court fails to understand how Knight’s reckless and allegedly criminal attempt to run Bone over with his truck in the late afternoon was predictable with an ‘extraordinarily high degree of predictability,’ so that a duty can be imposed on the defendants,” he said. the Los Angeles County Superior Court. Judge Brian Currey wrote in a September 2016 ruling granting the parties objections. “The alleged fact that Defendants ordered Bone to ‘take control of the situation’ and arrange a meeting with Carter does not make it highly predictable that Bone ‘flanks’ and ‘ambush’ Knight by continuing a personal struggle with Knight in the presence of The Associates of Bone or that Knight would recklessly and criminally attempt to attack Bone with his vehicle, or that Carter would be in some probable danger.”
Knight appeared on camera Wednesday walking with and without a cane. He testified that he is “100% blind” in his left eye.
“You don’t agree, Mr. Knight, that if you were driving without a valid driver’s license, being blind in one eye, and if you ran over and killed someone on the sidewalk, you should be responsible?” asked Behringer.
Knight replied that he could “see enough” to drive. “Like 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, which seeks more than $10 million in damages, is expected to last until next week before going to the jury.