A spokesman said late Thursday that it appeared Knight, the notorious Death Row Records founder, had run over two men with his truck after an argument on a movie set. Authorities have not yet identified the victims, though the sheriffs department said that both men were in their 50s, and that at least one was a member of the film crew, according to the Los Angeles Times. The people we talked to say it looked like it was an intentional act.Authorities said Knight left the scene following the afternoon incident but turned himself in early Friday morning in West Hollywood.
He was arrested a short while later and is being held on $2 million bail, according to the sheriff’s office.
The incident reportedly occurred following a dispute on the set of a movie called “Straight Outta Compton,” about the rise and fall of N.W.A., the pioneering rap group that included Dr. Dre, Ice Cube and Eazy-E.
Earlier, Knight’s attorney acknowledged that his client ran over two people while driving a red pickup truck in the parking lot of a fast-food restaurant in Compton. But, he said, 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,” attorney James Blatt told the Associated Press. “He was in this car trying to escape. … We are confident that once the investigation is completed, he will be totally exonerated.”
The incident in question occurred Thursday afternoon at Tam’s Burgers in Compton. Homicide detectives were dispatched to the the scene to investigate a fatal hit-and-run accident, according a sheriff’s office news release.
“When the homicide detectives arrived, they learned that two individuals were hanging out at the rear parking lot of a business when a red pick-up truck approached,” the statement said. “The driver of the pick-up truck became involved in a verbal argument with the individuals from the parking lot. The argument escalated and the driver backed up striking one of the victims.
“The driver then drove forward driving over both victims.”
Various witnesses told authorities that the suspect was Knight. The suspect’s vehicle, the sheriff’s department noted, was described as a red Ford F-150 Raptor. “This vehicle is similar to the vehicle driven by Marion Suge Knight.”
Whatever occurred on Thursday afternoon, for Knight, it marks another episode of violence in a life teeming with them. Violence has always been with him: through his days as a college football player, his ascent to the highest reaches of the recording industry, and his plunge into deep debt. And today, violence defines him more than music ever did.
He’s fatalistic about it. After all, he’s been shot several times. In August, he took at least one bullet at a party in West Hollywood hosted by Chris Brown. “You’re born to die,” he once told a New York Times reporter when declining to discuss the killing of a Death Row employee. “Ain’t nobody gonna leave here alive. Everybody is born and everybody’s going to die. Period. That’s the way it’s played. Can’t nobody change that.”
That’s true. But Knight has long courted the violent trappings of gang life — both when he had the means to abandon the troubles of the community where he came from, and when he didn’t.
Despite the gangster persona he cultivated — he wore a medallion that said “M.O.B.,” associated with the Mob Piru Bloods street gang and put a Bloods-red carpet in his office — his origins were different.
Though raised in the streets of Compton, his reported sweetness earned him his nickname — to his mom, he was “sugar.”
“He was spoiled,” Maxine Knight told the New York Times in 1996. “I would always do anything for him. He could get anything he wanted. Suge always liked gold, and he was careful about his appearance, and he always said, ‘Mom, one day I’m going to live in a house with a second floor and I’ll have a lot of cars.’”
His first path to wealth was sport. Knight, a hulking man who stands six-foot-two and once weighed more than 300 pounds, was a talented football player. So much so that he spent part of a season with the Los Angeles Rams.
But according to what he told The Washington Post in 2007, his sports career hit the skids when he was a hit with a charge for attempted murder in 1987. He was 22, pleaded no contest and didn’t do any time.
“It went to misdemeanor,” he said.
And what about the victim? “I shot him with his own gun.”
That aggression, even off the field, made him valuable. He was soon working as a bodyguard for singer Bobby Brown and got schooled on how the music industry works. He witnessed how rappers weren’t making the money that was their due, so he set out to change that — and make himself some money, too.