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Soulful Justice

Patti LaBelle's violent entourage finally on trial for West Point cadet airport assault

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Patti LaBelle and Efrem Holmes arriving at a party in 2009
Patti LaBelle and bodyguard Efrem Holmes arriving at a party in 2009 GospelConnoisseur.com
Richard King West Point cadet who was beaten by Patti LaBelle bodyguard
Former West Point cadet Richard King claims he was injured by Holmes in a 2011 unprovoked attack. Photo courtesy of KHOU Houston/Channel 11
Efrem Holmes head shot beat up West Point cadet Patti LaBelle bodyguard head shot
LaBelle claims Holmes was involved in an incident sparked by King's shouting of racial slurs. Twitter
Patti LaBelle bodyguard beating up West Point dude in airport
King, then quite intoxicated, received several staples in his head and remembers nothing of the incident. TheDailyMail.com
Patti LaBelle and Efrem Holmes arriving at a party in 2009
Richard King West Point cadet who was beaten by Patti LaBelle bodyguard
Efrem Holmes head shot beat up West Point cadet Patti LaBelle bodyguard head shot
Patti LaBelle bodyguard beating up West Point dude in airport

Delayed from going to trial for more the two years, a high-profile case involving an army cadet and members of Patti LaBelle's entourage has finally made its way to a Harris County criminal courthouse.

Houston native Richard King was in his last semester at West Point in March 2011 when he was brutally attacked by Efrem Holmes — a bodyguard for the Grammy Award-winning singer — at Bush Intercontinental Airport. King says the assault was unprovoked, but LaBelle's attorneys claim the army cadet shouted racial slurs.

The then-23-year-old cadet had just arrived from Newark to meet his family for spring break. Lawyers for both parties agreed in court on Tuesday that he had been drinking heavily during and after his flight, according to the Chronicle.

From that moment, King says he remembers nothing . . . only waking up the next morning with staples in his head.

King says the a​ssault was unprovoked, while LaBelle's attorneys claim the cadet shouted racial slurs. 

Legal documents describe a confrontation that landed the drunken student in an area hospital. Holmes told police King punched LaBelle's son Zuri Edwards, who was driving the limo, in the face. The bodyguard claims he simply defended Edwards by pushing King, who slammed his head on a concrete pillar.

The cadet was promptly kicked out of West Point for his behavior, thanks to an alleged phone call from the Houston Police Department. He was allowed to return and graduate a semester later.

But a different picture emerged when video surveillance of the incident surface a month later. Security cameras recorded Edwards chest bumping King. When the cadet pushed back, Holmes slammed King with an open hand and shoved him against the concrete pillar. The student was left sitting in a pool of blood.

Based on the video footage, Holmes was charged with aggravated assault in July 2011. His current Harris County criminal trial is expected to last several days.

Meanwhile, King has filed a million-dollar civil suit against Holmes, Edwards and LaBelle, with a legal petition calling his alleged assailants "violent, paid thugs who have no qualms about assaulting innocent people."

Lawyers for the celebrated singer counter sued, claiming that "King directed profane and racial slurs toward LaBelle." According to this suit, when Edwards told King that LaBelle was his mother, the drunken cadet punched him in the face. The civil case, now in a federal district court, will go to trial in September 2014.

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