Less than a week after being caught on camera kicking a female fan at a concert in Lakeland, rapper Kevin Gates has been charged with battery and could face a year in a Polk County jail.
The charge comes days before Gates is due back in Tampa to perform a Labor Day weekend concert at Whiskey North nightclub.
According to the Lakeland Police Department, the Louisiana native — real name Kevin Gilyard, 29 — was performing at Rumors Night Club in Lakeland on Aug. 29 when 18-year-old fan Miranda Dixon reached out from the front row to grab him. Gates, according to a police report, kicked Dixon "with such force that it pushed (her) back into the crowd," causing her to lose her breath and, later, black out and seek medical treatment.
According to Brian Haas, a spokesman for the State Attorney's Office in Polk, Highlands and Hardee counties, Gates was formally charged with battery Wednesday and is due in a Bartow court Oct. 22. No warrant has been filed for Gates' arrest. Lakeland Police spokeswoman Sgt. Terri Smith said that often in cases like this, "surrender is negotiated through an attorney."
Gates' lengthy rap sheet includes stints in prison and several gun charges from 2013 in Illinois, including aggravated unlawful use of a weapon. A spokesman for the Cook County State Attorney's Office said Gates is next due in court on those charges on Sept. 22.
Video of the kicking incident went viral after it was uploaded to the hip hop site WorldStar Hip Hop on Aug. 29, and has more than 1.3 million views. On Wednesday, Gates uploaded a defiant song to YouTube called The Truth, in which he appears to address the incident. He raps that he feels disrespected by the alleged victim, but also expresses some regret for what happened:
Man in the mirror, you way out of order
Go to jail, who gon' look out for your daughter
All on the news 'bout what happened in Florida
Posted on WorldStar, on iPhone recorded
She grabbed my d---; overreacted, I'm sorry
Two or three times, I had already warned her.
He concludes by saying: "To the police, it just make me invincible; to all my haters, just make me invincible."
One place you won't hear The Truth is Wild 94.1. The St. Petersburg hip hop station, which this just year hosted Gates at its Wild Splash festival in Clearwater, decided this week to pull all of Gates' music.
Jacksonville promoter Stanley Robinson, who is organizing the Whiskey North show, said by phone Thursday that he's spoken with Gates' management in the past week, and he expects the Tampa show to go on as planned. Tickets are $30-$50 through eventbrite.com.
"The plan for Sunday is, the event must go on," he said. "My feelings go out to the young lady; however, I've got a contract with the club, and I've got a contract with Kevin Gates. I've had him booked since May 26."
Robinson said he's been in touch with Gates' management in the past week, and he's aware of an online petition to keep Gates out of Florida. But that, he said, doesn't concern him.
"If they want it stopped that bad, they gotta give me $150,000" — the amount he says he expects the show to make.
"I'm not gonna lose no money behind what he done," Robinson said. "If he don't show, he's gonna be in a lawsuit with me."
Gates isn't the only troubled hip-hop star with a club appearance this weekend in Tampa.
On Friday, long-embattled R&B star Chris Brown is performing at the MidFlorida Credit Union Amphitheatre, and he's scheduled to host an after party at the Drynk, 302 S Howard Ave. Tickets to that event are $30-$50 through eventbrite.com; for details, see facebook.com/thedrynksoho.
Times news researcher Caryn Baird contributed to this report. Contact Jay Cridlin at firstname.lastname@example.org or (727) 893-8336. Follow @JayCridlin.