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A Brief History of Katt Williams's Brushes with the Law

The talented comedian can't seem to stay out of police crosshairs.

by Brian Josephs
Mar 3 2016, 5:00pm

Katt Williams attends Rick Ross's 40th birthday celebration on January 28, 2016 in Fayetteville, Georgia. (Photo by Paras Griffin/Getty Images for The Vanity Group)

Katt Williams was poised to put his career back on track this year with the Conspiracy Theory Tour, tweeting in all caps last month about upcoming performances in St. Louis and Atlanta. But as has been the case with glaring frequency throughout his time in the public eye, the comedian's shows are now mere afterthoughts due to his off-stage legal woes.

On Monday, the 42-year-old was arrested in Gainesville, Georgia, on a battery charge for allegedly punching a pool supply store employee after throwing a pair of goggles at him. On Wednesday, reports emerged that five women claim Williams and 15 members of his entourage physically assaulted them, held them at gunpoint, and stole their phones. As the Atlanta Journal-Constitution reported, a woman named Salena Boston said that at 2:30 AM on Sunday, she and a group of friends spotted Williams walking and approached him for a picture. After initially accepting, Williams allegedly started fighting the women when one of them began filming.

For his part, Williams told TMZ about the pool incident, "Katt Williams did what Katt Williams had to do," because the store clerk, he claims, used the N-word. And he says police found him lying down with his hands behind his back as if ready to go to jail. As for the more recent incident, Williams denied it, suggesting the group was harassing him and tried to snatch a chain from his neck. The comedian claims in the police report that at one point, one of the women said that "she was going to her car to get something to pop somebody."

Williams was handcuffed in that second incident but not arrested. Regardless, the two altercations are just the latest episodes in the comedian's bizarre tenure in the celebrity spotlight. In fact, he's been involved in some two-dozen altercations and legal imbroglios over the years.

The trouble began with the success of The Pimp Chronicles, Pt. 1, Williams's first HBO special. In November 2006, he was arrested at LAX airport after a stolen gun was found in his briefcase. He pleaded no contest to carrying a concealed firearm and was sentenced to three years in probation.

His rap sheet has since become a punch line in and of itself. During one particularly unfortunate stretch in late 2012, Williams was arrested five times in two months on charges that included allegedly beating an 18-year-old with a bottle in his tour bus (November 15), attacking a family outside a sports bar (December 2), and child endangerment after the LA County Department of Children and Family Services found guns and illegal drugs at his home (December 28). He was slapped with bench warrants on December 7 and again on January 8, 2013, for leading Sacramento police on a chase while riding a three-wheel motorcycle.

The police aborted that chase for safety reasons.

And that burst came after Williams allegedly pulled a gun on comedian Faizon Love over a $50,000 debt and later called Love a snitch for reporting it.

As you might expect, Williams's erratic behavior has spilled into his stand-up career. It got particularly bad in November 2012, when he kicked off the month by doing a Denver show that involved doing some push-ups, rocking a bare-chested look, and inviting a heckler on stage to spit on him. Two weeks later, Williams tried to fight at least three members of the audience in Oakland after again taking off his shirt, according to a lawsuit.

There's more, including an incident on November 15, 2011, when Williams was charged with intimidating a witness by refusing to let a tractor worker leave a home he was staying in after three women attacked him with rocks and dirt clods. Also: a June 24 run-in that same year where Williams's bodyguard reportedly killed a retired police dog in Arizona after he bit him. And Williams apparently managed to get into a fight with a promoter at an August 25, 2011, Young Jeezy concert.

What's disheartening about Williams's ongoing struggles is how he was one of the more unique mainstream comedians of the early millennium. With his nasally voice and bits of slapstick, the humor of his performances came from how he stretched urban common knowledge into absurdities. There's high-quality weed, and there's deaf. Oh, and the Crocodile Hunter was a gangster.

Williams had a bit of a career revival with his 2014 HBO special Priceless: Afterlife, but whatever mainstream momentum he regained was halted just a few months later: Williams and Suge Knight were charged with robbery for allegedly stealing a female paparazzo's camera.

He was arrested in that case while appearing in court for an unrelated assault charge.

Follow Brian Josephs at Twitter.

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