Appearing remotely from a neon white painted cinderblock room, Suge Knight first testified about the day Wednesday in early 2015, when he tried — but failed — to set up a meeting with Dr. Dre to get into an office for the movie Straight Outta Compton and ended up hitting two men outside a nearby burger joint with his truck, killing one of them.
Knight, 57, is now serving a 28-year sentence for the fatal incident at Tam’s Burgers in Compton, California, which claimed the life of local businessman Terry Carter on Jan. 29, 2015. Prosecutors originally charged Knight with murder, claiming he turned reversed his Ford Raptor truck before intentionally shifting gears, accelerating and mowing down Carter. The case avoided trial when Knight accepted a plea deal and was convicted of voluntary manslaughter in September 2018.
Knight’s highly anticipated, 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 trial brought by Carter’s wife and daughters.
Knight wore a gold chain over his blue prison uniform and drank what looked like an iced coffee from a large plastic cup. Knight claimed he practically tripped over the Straight Outta Compton production base camp that day and wasn’t looking to confront Dre – though Knight testified under oath that police told him that Dre hired the man who shot him seven times at Chris Brown’s pre-VMA party six months earlier in the summer of 2014.
“I was told that,” Knight testified Wednesday when asked about the alleged lease. “People showed me checks, canceled checks.”
For his part, Dre has denied the wild accusation. “Since Dre hasn’t had any interaction with Suge since he left Death Row Records in 1996, we hope Suge’s attorney has many insurance policies to cover criminal charges,” Dre’s attorney said in a 2016 statement when a lawyer allegedly Knight represents the allegation in a now-defunct civil court complaint.
In his testimony Wednesday, Knight claimed he never worked with the attorney who filed the complaint, but he did not shy away from the subject of alleged hitmen. He claimed he ended up in the film’s production office shortly before Carter’s death because he was “driving around the area” and an unidentified person told him to “come through” to discuss a “situation” with Dre.
“Dr. Dre – we’ve been really good friends for years. I know his children, he knows my children. And I was told he paid some guys to hurt me,” Knight testified. “I didn’t believe it because the authorities are lying. So I went up there. … I wanted to talk to him and say, ‘Hey man, I’m not going to respond to what the authorities say you have something to do with me getting shot. I just want to point out that they say this and publish it there.’”
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 using his name and likeness on screen. He said it might come, but mostly he wanted a personal meeting with Dre to let him know what the police would say. He claimed that when he met Dre and his… Straight Outta Compton co-producer Ice Cube was too “busy” for a meeting, it wasn’t a big deal as he had plans to take his 5-year-old son to an arcade. Knight said he voluntarily left base camp when someone “catched up” to him and said, “Hey, Cube wants you to come (back) because we tried to get you to take care of you.”
Knight testified that when he specifically asked about Dre and said he didn’t want to wait all day, things started to go sideways. Cle “Bone” Sloan, a mobster who worked for 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.
“Did you ever get a restraining order that Dr. Dre allegedly had on you?” Knight’s attorney, David Kenner, inquired after the confusing mention of the windshield.
‘No,’ replied Knight. “Never.”
Knight testified that after he left the film production office for his family outing, he got a call from Carter, an old friend. He told jurors that Carter invited him to a special meeting with Dre at Dwayne “Knob” Johnson’s house across the street from Tam’s.
He said, ‘They’re trying to take care of you, sort out a few things. Dre drops by Knobs’ house. Come and meet me there.’ He said, “Man, they’re trying to give you some bread,” Knight testified.
According to Knight, he drove next to Carter’s gray station wagon on a street adjacent to Tam’s and became the subject of an armed ambush. He said Sloan jumped over a wall adjacent to Tam’s parking lot, brandished a pistol, and started hitting him through the open window of his truck.
Lance Behringer, the attorney representing Carter’s widow Lillian, and his two daughters, Nekaya and Crystal, horrified Knight over the claim that he “feared his life” and acted in self-defense when he shot down his motorcycle and both Sloan and Carter, who killed Carter. kills.
Behringer read from a transcript of Knight’s sentencing in which a judge warned Knight that his “no contest” plea was the same as a guilty plea for voluntary 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 colluded to bribe people into saying they saw men with guns confronting Knight at Tam’s. .
“Isn’t it correct that, instead of leaving on 142nd (Street), after backing out of the Tam’s parking lot, fearing for your life, you decided to return to the 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 say Bone Sloan is pointing a gun at you,” the lawyer said.
“Where I come from, from Compton, and how my parents taught me, as a child of God, it’s not an eye for an eye. …I wasn’t about to say, ‘Hey, this person pointed a gun at me and tried to kill me’ and put them in custody. But at the same time, once I knew they gave Bone immunity, and he can’t get in trouble, if I’m telling the truth, nothing can happen to him, it’s a different story,” Knight claimed.
‘Let me see if I can understand. Sloan, the man you think pointed a gun at you and tried to kill you, you tried to protect him by Sgt. Biddle he had a gun there? Is that right?” asked Behringer.
“We are all friends. There are several rules that we abide by – that you don’t personally try to get one of your homeboys into custody, whatever the situation. So therefore, if he has immunity and he can’t get in trouble, it makes a difference,” Knight testified.
“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.” parts. Is that true?” asked Behringer.
“That’s not true at all,” Knight said, starting one of his more complicated answers. “The truth is this: Tam’s isn’t called ‘Murder Burger’ for nothing. One thing we all know is that you can’t do anything near Tam’s because of the cameras. … No one pulled their gun at Tam’s. Everyone knows there are cameras. Just ask anyone, they call Tam’s ‘Murder Burger’. A lot of people who didn’t know they had cameras there are still in prison.”
“I had done nothing wrong to these guys, that they wanted to kill me, but there was a contract,” Knight added as Carter’s daughter, Nekaya – who was in court with her mother and sister – shook her head in disgust.
The Carter family filed the underlying lawsuit in June 2015. Initially, the family called Dr. Dre, Ice Cube and NBC Universal among the defendants, claiming they all knew Knight objected to Straight Outta Compton and intended to commit violence on the sets of the film. The family alleged that the producers hired Sloan to stand up to Knight’s violence and then carelessly mentored him.
Dre and Cube, born Andre Young and O’Shea Jackson respectively, successfully fought the complaint along with NBC Universal.
“The court cannot comprehend how Knight’s reckless and allegedly criminal attempt to run over Bone with his truck later in the afternoon was predictable with an ‘exceedingly high degree of foreseeability’ so that defendants could be placed under a duty,” the Loss said. Angeles County Superior Court. Judge Brian Currey wrote in a September 2016 decision awarding the parties’ demurrers. “The alleged fact that Defendants ordered Bone to ‘get the situation under control’ and arrange a meeting with Carter does not make it highly foreseeable that Bone would ‘flank’ and ‘ambush’ Knight through a personal fight. continue with Knight in the presence of Bone’s companions or whether Knight would attempt to recklessly and criminally attack Bone with his vehicle, or that Carter would be in any probable danger.”
Ridder appeared on camera on Wednesday, both with and without a walking stick. He testified that he is “100% blind” in his left eye.
“Don’t you agree, Mr. Knight, that driving around without a valid license is blind in one eye, and that you are responsible if you run over and kill someone on the sidewalk?” 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 another way, I can’t,” he said.
The Carter family’s civil suit, seeking damages in excess of $10 million, is expected to go to jury next week.