They resembled an exclamation point. On Tuesday morning, Rap impresario Suge Knight, a mountain of a man, and his diminutive comedian/cohort, Katt Williams, exchanged a series of giddy smiles and whispers between each testimony during their pretrial hearing at L.A. Superior Court.
After an hour of witness testimony, including from two L.A. policemen, a waiter, and the victim herself, Judge Roger Coen determined that the pair would face trial on October 27 for allegedly assaulting photographer Leslie “Kat” Redden and robbing her of her $3,000 camera in Beverly Hills back on September 5, 2014. Police claim Redden was smashed against a wall and suffered a dislocated ring finger in the attack, and video of the assault and theft was played in court on a pull-down projection screen.
As the hearing came to a close, one that included preliminary issues concerning his other pending case—the alleged murder of Terry Carter in Compton, which was also caught on video, with that trial set to begin on December 11—Knight scribbled “Happy Birthday Legend” on a piece of paper and flashed it to the folks in the courtroom and the pooled video cameramen in court, honoring his 6-year-old son.
But one person wasn’t smiling.
“Everybody is so excited to see Katt Williams, but they don’t realize what a scumbag he really is,” alleged victim Leslie “Kat” Redden told The Daily Beast in an exclusive interview.
Redden, who goes by the photographer name “Kat” when she’s capturing celebs out and about in Los Angeles with her camera, had hoped to capture footage of 44-year-old Williams.
“I never shot Katt Williams,” she said outside court, remembering that day in September. “I was a fan of Katt Williams before this. My intent was to go to Katt Williams and ask him, ‘Hey, man, could I shoot you?’ Like, I do this all the time.”
In fact, Redden had videotaped Suge Knight before.
In one of her videos posted this past March, there are a few fleeting seconds of the Death Row Records founder accepting a psychic’s business card and mugging for the camera with a female fan. It all went down without incident.
“I shot Suge before,” she said. “I was doing my typical.” The “typical” included reassuring Knight’s apparently self-conscious girlfriend that she wasn’t underdressed for the event. It has all the appearances of a friendly interaction between the self-described “observer” and Knight.
Following the decidedly less friendly Beverly Hills incident, she is suing Williams and Knight for an undisclosed sum for ripping her Canon 50D camera and Tamron lens from her right shoulder, causing her to suffer “severe back, head trauma, as well as a dislocated finger and injury to [her] wrist,” according to the civil suit filed in June.
She took the stand Tuesday to face down both men and give a blow-by-blow account of the September 5 encounter. “That is the cross one has to bear,” Redden told me. “If justice actually exists you have to have evidence and you have to testify.”
Redden said that it wasn’t easy to come to court. She claimed that Knight, who has a long history of intimidation, sicced his henchmen on her to spook her out of testifying. “After this happened I was threatened by people who knew him while I was walking around Beverly Hills,” she said outside of court.
If true, Redden’s accusations against Knight could amount to witness tampering. But Knight’s attorney, Thomas Mesereau, believes the claims are meritless. “I don’t believe it for a second,” he said in a phone interview. “I completely deny that anything like that occurred.”
On that fateful day, September 5 of last year, Redden said she was waiting outside the FilmOn Studio in Beverly Hills to shoot Williams, who was inside with pal Knight shooting a show called Battle Rap TV. When they emerged, Knight confronted Redden, who managed to press the record button on her backup camera dangling from her neck. She claimed she was terrified that her life was about to taken by Knight and his imposing bodyguards.
To further protect herself, Redden said she uploaded the footage to YouTube, though the video was eventually taken down. “I was fearing for my life,” she said. “These videos that were on it were there to protect myself. They try to play it like ‘she’s filming a kid.’ No, no, no, no, no.”
“He was furious his son was being photographed, as any father should be,” Knight’s lawyer Mesereau said. “He had been shot previously and [Knight] feared for his life.”
The video that Redden reposted on another website paints a slightly different story. The first person to approach the trio is a large man described by lawyers and witnesses as Knight’s bodyguard. He confronts one of the male cameramen and demands that he wipe his footage. “I want to see it now,” he says. “I want to see it now.”
As the muscle is dealing with the cameraman, Knight, sporting sunglasses, is seen slowly walking up from behind with a young boy in tow.
Knight bypasses photographer Yehya Mohamed in order to lay down the law with the third cameraman. “You take that shit,” he tells the male photographer. “My man, don’t come at me. You don’t take shit without asking. That ain’t right, motherfucker.”
Then he shoots a glance at Redden. “And that bitch over there, what is she doing?” Knight asks. According to the prosecutor in court, at that point Knight allegedly ordered an underling to snatch Redden’s camera. “Get that bitch over there,” he is said to have commanded. “Get her shit.”
Taking issue with Knight’s choice of words, Redden repeats, “Bitch?” And then the two start jawing. “I said you called me a bitch,” Redden tells him.
Knight moves toward her with a white towel in his left hand, repeatedly pulling up his loose-hanging white T-shirt. “You trying to take a picture of my motherfucking son,” he says. “What’s the matter with you? I’ll tell you that I got a bitch who will beat your motherfucking ass.”
A mystery woman (allegedly Williams’s girlfriend at the time) then enters the frame to attack Redden and steal her camera. On Redden’s follow-up video, she overlays text on the woman who tries to cover her face with a brown paper bag, writing: She is the one that Suge Knight refers to “as the one that can kick my ass…”
On the witness stand Redden said she maintained a “horse stance” as the woman began pummeling her, eventually forcing her into a wall. Then, she testified that as she was on the ground, it was Katt Williams himself that she saw “pulling at my neck” and got the camera when he “took it off my shoulder.”
“She was putting up her arms and cheering,” Redden said of her alleged assailant, after seeing the surveillance footage played in court for the first time. “I had no idea she had done that because I had a concussion. But why would you do that?”
Knight’s lawyer Mesereau claimed that his client was merely shielding his son from pernicious paparazzi. “He never robbed anyone. He was trying to protect his son,” he said. “He had no intent of doing anything wrong.”
When recapping the alleged robbery a day after he was freed from a Malibu jail, Williams wasn’t exactly sympathetic to Redden, painting the videographer as a predator. “I know she was engaged in inappropriate interactions with a child, not with any adult,” he told TMZ. “We’re talking about a 5-year-old—let’s be clear.”
“[Williams] made it sound like I was in the middle of an alleyway with just the child,” Redden said, referring to Williams’s public statements. “He never said it was Suge Knight’s child. So he was inferring that I was a pedophile. That’s how low these guys are.”
Williams then seemed to justify the violence as a situation wherein a ruthless, rogue photographer got her comeuppance. “I didn’t take her camera,” he added to TMZ. “Don’t say you’re going to erase something, then take off running and think no one’s going to chase you.”
At one point during our talk, she brought up Knight’s murder charge, in which he allegedly mowed down Cle Denyale “Bone” Sloan and Terry Carter during an uninvited January 29 visit to Tam’s Burgers, where a promo for the Universal film Straight Outta Compton was being shot. Sloan survived, but Carter wasn’t so lucky.
While Mesereau told The Daily Beast that the murder charge against Knight is baseless and that he “fled for his life when he was chased in his car,” Redden believes otherwise.
“A man is dead who is loved by his family,” she said of Carter, before breaking down in tears recalling his funeral. “I saw that man get buried. It hurts my heart that a guy on my watch [Knight]—killed somebody. This is about justice and they let [Knight], and I’m being very kind, they let [Knight] who has committed so much violence and destruction.”