Rap mogul Marion “Suge” Knight was arrested for murder Friday in connection with a hit-and-run that left one man dead and another in the hospital, Los Angeles authorities said.
But the rapper’s lawyer said that Knight was being beaten and threatened with his life at the time of the incident.
The rapper was held in lieu of $2 million in bail, Sergeant Diane Hecht of the Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Office told AFP.
Witnesses told the sheriff’s department that Knight, co-founder of Death Row Records, first argued with the men, then used a red pick-up truck to strike them, backing into one then running over both.
The vehicle was similar to one Knight is known to drive.
The argument began on the set of “Straight Outta Compton”, a movie about pioneering rap group NWA, said Captain John Corina of the Sheriff’s Department.
Corina told reporters that Knight is believed to have left the set in southern Los Angeles and followed the two victims to a nearby burger shop, the scene of the parking lot incident.
“We are handling it as a homicide,” he told reporters at the scene.
Knight was arrested in the early hours after being interviewed by homicide detectives.
His lawyer said the rapper was attacked by a number of men, and had accidentally run over the victims while trying to escape, according to The LA Times.
“Mr Knight was attacked by a group of men while he was in his vehicle. They were beating him, threatening to kill him and attempting to drag him outside of the vehicle,” attorney James Blatt told the LA Times.
“He made an effort to escape, he was in fear for his life. And that’s exactly what he did,” he said.
One of the victims was declared dead at the hospital. The second survived but no details on his condition were released.
Knight, 49, co-founded Death Row along with hip-hop music king Dr. Dre in the early 1990s.
The label launched stars such as Snoop Dogg and Tupac Shakur but collapsed in 1996 when Knight was jailed for violating a 1992 probation order by beating up a rival in Las Vegas.
He again served a 10 month jail stint in 2003 after getting into a fight outside a Hollywood nightclub. Last year, he was shot six times at a music awards party.