After hip-hop mogul Marion "Suge" Knight was arrested early Friday on suspicion of murder in connection with a hit-and-run crash in Compton that left one man dead and another injured, authorities and his attorney offered widely different versions of the incident.
Knight was being held on $2.025 million bail after being booked about 3 a.m. Friday at the Los Angeles County Sheriff's Department West Hollywood station. He was later moved to the Men's Central Jail in downtown Los Angeles, county inmate records indicated.
The Death Row Records founder went to the station with his attorney about 12:30 a.m. and was interviewed by homicide detectives. Video showed him puffing a cigar as he walked to the station.
Authorities said Knight, 49, purposefully ran two people over during an argument about 3 p.m. Thursday near the intersection of Rosecrans and Central avenues (map) in the parking lot of Tam's Burgers.
But his lawyer said Knight was trying to escape an attack when he accidentally hit the victims.
"We feel strongly that Mr. Knight did not do anything wrong in this matter," the attorney, James Blatt, told reporters. "He was attacked by a number of individuals — that's already been corroborated by certain witnesses. He left the scene because he was in fear for his safety and life."
Knight was driving his truck and was slowing down to meet with longtime friend and business partner Terry Carter when he was assaulted, Blatt said in an interview. Between two and four men charged Knight's car and beat him through his open driver's window, Blatt said.
"They beat him. They grabbed him. They indicated that they were trying to get him out of the car to kill him," Blatt said.
In self-defense and in an attempt to get away, Knight struck Carter and a second victim, actor Cle "Bone" Sloan, according to Blatt. His client did not realize he had hit anyone, Blatt said.
The county coroner's office confirmed Carter, 55, as the deceased victim. Sloan was recovering Friday.
Authorities described Thursday's events differently.
Sheriff's Department homicide Lt. John Corina said Knight was sitting in his Ford F-150 Raptor pickup truck in the restaurant's parking lot when he got into a fight with Sloan through the driver's side window.
After punches were thrown, Knight put the vehicle into reverse, knocking Sloan to the ground, the lieutenant said. Knight allegedly then put the pickup into drive and accelerated into Sloan, hitting him and then Carter, and speeding away, Corina said.
“It looks like an intentional act, which would make it a homicide. He used his vehicle as a weapon," Corina said.
The pickup truck was recovered hours later in a Westwood parking lot.
Knight had been involved in another altercation, also with Sloan, 20 to 30 minutes before the hit-and-run collisions, Corina said.
"There's still a lot of innuendo, and we're still trying to sort through all that," Corina said.
Witnesses told KTLA they saw Knight working on a movie production in Compton, where TMZ reported he got into a fight with crew members before allegedly running over a bystander.
After founding Death Row Records in 1991, Knight signed such rap artists as Snoop Dogg and Tupac Shakur. Knight was behind the wheel of the car in which Shakur was a passenger when the rapper was fatally wounded in a drive-by shooting in Las Vegas in 1996.
In August, Knight and two others were shot and wounded at a Sunset Strip party hosted by singer Chris Brown on the eve of the MTV Video Music Awards.
KTLA's Kennedy Ryan contributed to this report.