Suge Knight arrested for fatal hit-and-run
West Hollywood, Calif. — Death Row Records founder Marion "Suge" Knight was arrested on suspicion of murder early Friday, hours after the rap music figure turned himself in to authorities in a hit-and-run wreck that killed a man and injured another near Los Angeles.
After being questioned by homicide detectives, Knight was taken into custody around 3 a.m., said Deputy Trina Schrader of the Los Angeles County Sheriff's Department. He was held on $2 million bail and could face a murder charge, she said.
Knight arrived voluntarily at a sheriff's station early Friday, Schrader said. Video provided by ONSCENE.TV showed Knight getting out of a private car and then leisurely walking into the station with companions and others who appeared to be law officers.
Knight's attorney, James Blatt, said the former rap mogul accidentally ran over and killed a friend and injured another man as he fled attackers Thursday in the Los Angeles-area city of Compton.
"We are confident that once the investigation is completed, he will be totally exonerated," Blatt said.
A red pickup drove into the parking lot of a fast-food restaurant Thursday afternoon, and its driver started arguing with two people there, sheriff's officials said. The argument escalated, and the pickup struck the men around 3 p.m. and then took off, officials said.
"Looks like he drove backwards and struck the victims and drove forwards and struck them again," sheriff's Lt. John Corina said.
"The people we talked to say it looked like it was an intentional act," he said.
A 55-year-old man died at a hospital, and a 51-year-old man was injured, but officials did not immediately know his condition.
Witnesses also spoke of an argument.
"To see the argument happen, it's one thing," said 17-year-old Robert Smith, who was eating in the restaurant. "Seeing the car incident, that was shocking."
Blatt said it was an accident.
"He was in the process of being physically assaulted by two men, and in an effort to escape, he unfortunately hit two (other) individuals," the lawyer said. "He was in his car trying to escape."
The empty truck was found late Thursday night in a West Los Angeles parking lot, Corina said. Knight was seen driving a red pickup 20 minutes earlier in a different part of town where a music video was being filmed, the lieutenant said.
Knight founded Death Row Records, one of rap's leading labels, in the 1990s, releasing albums by artists like Dr. Dre, Snoop Dogg, and Tupac Shakur. He later declared bankruptcy, and the company was auctioned off.
Many of the records Knight released helped immortalize Compton, the city where the hit-and-run occurred, in hip-hop folklore as a gritty and violent urban environment, though crime has dipped significantly there since its 1990s peak.
Knight has a long history of run-ins with the law, ranging from assaults to driving violations.
In November, he pleaded not guilty to a robbery charge filed over an incident in which a celebrity photographer accused him of stealing her camera in Beverly Hills. Because of prior convictions, he could face up to 30 years in prison.
He has felony convictions for armed robbery and assault with a gun. He pleaded no contest in 1995 and was sentenced to five years' probation for assaulting two rap entertainers at a Hollywood recording studio in 1992.
He also served timed for probation violations.
Last August, Knight was shot six times at a Los Angeles nightclub. No arrests have been made.