Rapper Drakeo the Ruler's family files $20M wrongful death lawsuit against festival promoters

The rapper was stabbed during a backstage brawl on Dec. 18 in Los Angeles.

January 28, 2022, 4:38 PM

Attorneys for rapper and entertainer Drakeo the Ruler's family said they will file a $20M lawsuit Monday against several music event promoters including Live Nation, Bobby Dee Presents and C3 Presents, after Drakeo, whose legal name is Darrell Caldwell, was fatally stabbed at the "Once Upon A Time in L.A." music festival on the evening of Dec. 18, 2021, where he was set to perform.

A brawl broke out backstage at Exposition Park near the Banc of California Stadium in Los Angeles, the Caldwell family attorneys allege and also argue that negligence and a lack of security backstage led to the fight, and ultimately, the rapper's death.

PHOTO: This handout photo released on Dec. 19, 2021, courtesy of Scott Jawson, shows rapper and songwriter Darrell Caldwell, known professionally as Drakeo the Ruler, in Los Angeles in March, 2021.
This handout photo released on Dec. 19, 2021, courtesy of Scott Jawson, shows rapper and songwriter Darrell Caldwell, known professionally as Drakeo the Ruler, in Los Angeles in March, 2021.
Wyatt Winfrey/Courtesy Scott Johnson via AFP via Getty Images

"Mr. Caldwell was lynched by 40 to 60 people," family attorney James Bryant said during a press conference Thursday. "This would never have happened if those promoters had the proper security protocol. The world lost an amazing artist, a beautiful human being, a father," Bryant said.

The Caldwell family's attorney say that promoters should have provided more security at the event, due to the rapper's past troubles.

In 2019, Caldwell was found not guilty of murder and of attempted murder in a case that involved gang members, according to Bryant who also said the rapper faced threats to his life after he was acquitted.

"Even when a person is proven innocent; he's exonerated -- there is fallout from that and that was known to all the promoters," Bryant said.

PHOTO: The family of rapper Drakeo the Ruler participates in a press conference to announce it will file a wrongful death lawsuit against the promoters of the Los Angeles music festival where he was fatally stabbed backstage, Jan. 27, 2022 in Los Angeles.
The family of rapper Drakeo the Ruler participates in a press conference to announce it will file a wrongful death lawsuit against the promoters of the Los Angeles music festival where he was fatally stabbed backstage, on Jan. 27, 2022 in Los Angeles.
KABC/ABC NEWS

ABC News has reached out to festival promoters but requests for comment were not immediately responded to.

After the fatal stabbing, Live Nation canceled the festival, telling the L.A. Times in a statement: "There was an altercation in the roadway backstage. Out of respect for those involved and in coordination with local authorities, artists and organizers decided not to move forward with remaining sets so the festival was ended an hour early."

PHOTO: Police investigate the scene of a stabbing at the "Once Upon a Time in LA" festival at Exposition Park in Los Angeles, Dec. 18, 2021.
Police investigate the scene of a stabbing at the "Once Upon a Time in LA" festival at Exposition Park in Los Angeles, Dec. 18, 2021.
London Entertainment/Shutterstock

Live Nation organizers , however, told KABC, an ABC News station in Los Angeles, in a statement that the "'Once Upon A Time in L.A.' festival joins Drakeo's family, friends and fans in grieving his loss. "The festival is continuing to support local authorities in their investigation as they pursue the factsm" the organizers said in a statement.

So far, no arrests have been made in the case.

Asked if there are any updates in the investigation, the CHP did not respond to a request for comment.

PHOTO: Drakeo the Ruler attend's Saweetie's Freaknik Birthday Party on July 3, 2021 in Hollywood, Calif.
Drakeo the Ruler attend's Saweetie's Freaknik Birthday Party on July 3, 2021 in Hollywood, Calif.
MediaPunch/Shutterstock

Hip-hop star Snoop Dogg, who was set to perform at the "Once Upon a Time in L.A." festival, spoke out after Caldwell was killed, calling for "peace in hip-hop."

"My prayers go out to anyone affected by tragedy. Please take care, love one another and stay safe ya'll. I'M PRAYING FOR PEACE IN HIP HOP," he said.

ABC News' Bill Hutchinson contributed to this report.

ABC News Live

ABC News Live

24/7 coverage of breaking news and live events