R&B diva Patti LaBelle was just trying to wade her way through this "Mean Ol' Man's World" when former West Point cadet Richard King started yelling racial insults at her in the pickup area of the Bush Continental Airport in Houston on March 11.
Aside: See what I did there? I took a Patti LaBelle song title and made it relevant to the story.
That's what LaBelle alleges in a countersuit filed against King, a man her three bodyguards seemingly jumped for no reason, last week.
King, a former football player who was dismissed from West Point after the incident and sent to active duty, filed his lawsuit earlier this month, naming LaBelle, the three bodyguards, one of whom is the singer's son, and two others as defendants. King claims he was talking on his cell phone when LaBelle's bodyguards attacked him and sent him crashing into a concrete pillar. LaBelle's bodyguards claim King was drunk and was hurling insults at the limousine.
Luckily, there's airport surveillance video available (follow the guy from the top to the bottom of the screen in a yellowish shirt) so you can draw your own conclusion. King does seem to be moving awkwardly as he comes from behind a bus at the top of the screen and toward LaBelle's limo. While he is on his phone, he does appear to be gesturing toward the limo, which is out of the frame on the right. However, eyewitnesses claim the attack was unprovoked.
Still, LaBelle isn't conceding without a fight.
It's important to note that West Point dismissed King, who was supposed to graduate in December, for more than just this incident. While the school doesn't go into specific details, apparently he's been involved in other mishaps. King will serve 18 months active duty while in a mentorship program. Upon completion of the program, King can reapply to West Point and finish his last semester.
There's also something to be said about LaBelle countersuing a young man who's is going to be fighting for our country. No soapbox or anything here, but it just seems a little petty.
In LaBelle's countersuit, King is accused of being drunk, staggering around the terminal, screaming obscenities and trying to enter LaBelle's limo. Again, the video is inconclusive especially since there's no sound.
The bodyguards also told Houston police that King attacked them. These are the same Houston police who are seen taking pictures with LaBelle after the incident.
King's attorney, John Raley, said LaBelle's allegations in her countersuit are full of the same falsehoods she told the police.
"Several eyewitnesses saw and clearly heard the incident. The counter-claim is completely without merit," Raley said in a statement.
Both King and LaBelle are seeking unspecified damages.