The story went viral under cover of night – when many reputable journalists are sleeping and things on social media get a little weird.
Early early Tuesday ‑ so early that if felt more like Monday night – “Katt Williams” started trending on Twitter.
No, the 42-year-old diminutive comedian, known for his arrests for drugs and guns, was not dead or in jail again – yet.
But it appeared that he, at some unspecified time, had sucker punched a young man reported to be a “7th grader.”
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And, despite the cheap move and its evocation of recent Donald Trump rallies, it appeared Williams had lost the fight. Big time.
TMZ, as it often is, was way ahead of the rest of the pack on this one.
The headline, which appeared to very accurately describe the piece: “Katt Williams Sucker Punches Kid But Gets Ass Beating.”
“Katt Williams threw a punch at a kid, but when you watch the video it’s clear the kid ends up kicking Katt’s ass,” the tabloid wrote. “Katt throws the first punch but the victim – who’s reportedly in 7th grade – takes matters into his own hands and puts Katt in a rear naked choke.”
Indeed, there Williams, or a man who looks and sounds exactly like him, was.
Williams appeared to be standing in an “Atlanta project,” as TMZ put it, wearing a Versace sweatshirt after “handing out cash,” and staring down – or, given that Williams is reportedly 5-foot-5, staring up at – a young man perhaps better described as a young teen or even as a boy. And Williams did not look happy.
“You could either stop me on the court,” Williams said – if he meant the basketball court, that wasn’t clear – “or you could – “Boom! The conversation was over – Williams delivered a left straight to the face, and his target went down.
But the real story began when it became clear that Williams’ unexpected opening salvo wouldn’t mean victory.
Though the unnamed “boy” went down, the two were soon scuffling.
Williams’ rival soon had him on the ground helpless, the comedian’s head cradled in his arms.
Had onlookers not separated the pair, it seemed a mere squeeze would have meant curtains for the star who appeared in “Friday After Next,” “The Boondocks” and “The Tracy Morgan Show,” among many other credits.
And though he had been humiliated, Williams, ever-spirited, continued to insult the “child” who vanquished him, talking smack even while still prone.
“Tell me that’s your child,” he asked an onlooker. Then: “... Back up off me, little boy.” Then he marveled: “As a community, you let a little broke (n-word) like that do that to a celebrity?”
On Twitter – where Williams has almost 2.5 million followers – the comedian was promptly humiliated all over again.
“If you think you’re having a bad day jus remember that Katt Williams got beat up by a 7th grader lol,” one commenter wrote.
Another: “Katt Williams got beat up by someone who was born in 2001?” Another: “Katt Williams was my favorite comedian ever. It’s actually sad to watch his downfall.”
Indeed, some of the commentary concerning Williams’ behind-whooping focused on his apparent public breakdown.
After the video surfaced, the Los Angeles Times posted a comprehensive list of the comedian’s recent legal issues, which include: allegedly holding women who wanted a photo with him at gunpoint on Feb. 28; an alleged fight on March 2; an alleged fight onstage at a concert on March 6; and an arrest on suspicion of aggravated assault, terroristic threats and false imprisonment as well as drug and weapons charges after a raid on his house in Georgia on March 8.
And that’s just in roughly the last month – there was also the time he was arrested with Suge Knight for stealing a photographer’s camera in 2014.
And the story was nowhere near over.
Sure, Williams appeared to have assaulted a young person, and was roundly condemned – until a longer video of the incident surfaced that made it appear Williams was provoked.
In the uncut, initially more idyllic version, Williams is seen playing soccer with local youth, including the young person he was destined to fight.
“I’m surprised he didn’t fight nobody,” one onlooker, perhaps familiar with the allegations against Williams, commented as the game progressed.
“Boy,” another said, “Who’s he going to fight out here?”
Then, Williams and the young man appeared to have a game-related disagreement. Williams walked away; the youth pursued him, and appeared to hassle him while Williams was sitting on the ground. Williams himself took note of this.
“You over top of me,” Williams said. “I’m down low.”
“Stand up,” someone off camera said.
“Make me,” Williams said. He also noted that his pursuer was bigger than he was. “I just got out of jail, (n-word), they probably didn’t have anybody as big as you,” he said.
“You are hilarious,” someone off camera said.
“Yeah,” Williams said. “I think you’re going to have acne until you’re 26.”
Emotions appeared to escalate.
“Keep talking that s--t, bro,” someone said.
“Or what?” Williams said.
Moments later came the sucker punch and all that followed. The extended video also offered a longer view of what happened after the fight.
“How could you hit him like that?” someone said to Williams. “Chill out!”
Williams appeared to try to defuse the situation with humor.
“I’m just trying to show other celebrities why they don’t go to the hood more often,” he said.
Though Williams hardly appeared blameless in the second video, it prompted some in the media and on Twitter to come to his defense.
“Oh my god!” Hollywood Life wrote. “A new video of Katt William’s (sic) crazy fight with a seventh grader has been revealed, and it’s a totally different story than we saw before. Katt is followed around, harassed and antagonized for quite a while and cornered before he fought back. See for yourself!” The tabloid added: “While Katt is the adult in the situation and there’s never an excuse to hit a child, we must admit the kid provoked him for quite some time before he became violent.”
“That kid purposefully provoked Katt Williams into the fight,” Balencia Young, a reported witness, told Hollywood Life. “He told all his friends way in advance that he was going to get in (Katt’s) face, talk smack and not back down until Katt hit him. He told his friends he was going to get in the fight with Katt and he told them all to film it.”
The social media tide appeared to turn slightly in Williams’ favor.
“Context is everything,” one commenter wrote. “See how all this changed now? Ppl be too quick to judge w/o knowing details. That teen boy antagonized Katt Williams.”
So, in sum: Katt Williams appears to have attacked a “7th grader” or, at least, a young man; the “teen” deserved it, but violence against children is wrong; but the teen did, for the record, sort of deserve it.
As Twitter was trying to puzzle this complex situation through, so were the police.
TMZ reported they had seen the video and had launched a criminal investigation, and were trying to determine if Williams had violated conditions of his bail.