The reason Killer Mike was hauled away in handcuffs after winning three Grammy awards Sunday is coming into focus. A senior law enforcement source tells Rolling Stone that a female security guard working the star-studded event claims she was injured by the rapper during a confrontation inside the Crypto.com Arena in Los Angeles.
It was shortly after the Atlanta musician, whose legal name is Michael Render, swept the rap category with trophies for Best Rap Album, Best Rap Song and Best Rap Performance that he allegedly encountered the guard near her assigned entrance, the source revealed. The guard told police she asked for Render’s tickets and directed him to a security checkpoint, but he allegedly balked. According to the woman, Render tried to make his way around her, and when she “ran around and got in front of him again,” he allegedly “pushed her to the ground,” the source said.
The female guard allegedly suffered an injury to her hand and fingers, the well-placed LAPD source said. The woman called for help, and her fellow security officers surrounded Render outside the arena and called police, the source said. The guard received medical treatment, signed a citizen’s arrest for misdemeanor battery and had photos taken of her alleged injuries, the source said. Render was then arrested and transported for booking, processing, and release on his own recognizance.
The source was aware of critics who have questioned why Render was arrested while Will Smith was allowed to remain at the 2022 Oscars after he struck Chris Rock in the face. “There’s a big difference,” the source said. “Chris Rock didn’t want to make a report, didn’t want to make an arrest. It was a fellow artist, and I guess they sorted it out themselves. Had Chris Rock said, ‘I want to make a citizen’s arrest,’ it would have been honored.” The source said in this case, “it was a private citizen, and she had everything she needed to exercise her rights to make a citizen’s arrest. And we are bound by law to make that arrest.”
Neither Render’s attorney nor representative replied to multiple requests for comment. The artist, however, appeared on an Atlanta radio show Monday morning and jovially deflected questions about the incident, describing his arrest as a minor detour on an otherwise celebratory night. “We hit a speed bump, and then we head back to the party,” he told the Big Tigger Morning Show. He said he was only then leaving his final party after he won Best Rap Album for Michael and Best Rap Song and Best Rap Performance for “Scientists & Engineers.”
“I want to thank everyone who dares to believe that art can change the world,” Render said in his acceptance speech for Best Rap Performance Grammy Sunday. “It is our responsibility to keep using our imagination to shape and form the world.”
Render was honored for his solo achievement Sunday, but was previously nominated for a Grammy for “Chase Me,” a Run the Jewels collaboration with Danger Mouse and Big Boi. In 2003, he picked up a Best Rap Performance Grammy for the Outkast collaboration “The Whole World.”
Beyond music, Render also is known for his work as an activist. He was raised in a family of community organizers, with his father having worked as a police officer. In the days after George Floyd’s murder in 2020, he delivered a moving speech alongside Atlanta’s mayor that became a defining moment of the widespread protests that erupted.
“I watched a white officer assassinate a Black man. And I know that it tore your heart out, and I know that it’s crippling,” he said of Floyd’s death at the hands of white ex-Minneapolis Police officer Derek Chauvin. He said he woke up “mad as hell” and “wanting to see the world burn,” but he urged demonstrators to preserve their own neighborhoods.
“We have to be better than this moment. We have to be better than burning down our own homes. Because if we lose Atlanta, what else we got? We lose an ability to plot, to plan, to strategize, to organize and to properly mobilize,” he said.