During his Netflix special The Closer, Dave Chappelle accused rapper DaBaby of shooting and killing someone inside a Walmart. But did DaBaby really get away with murder?
Updated, April 25th, 2022: New footage of the Walmart incident has emerged, raising questions over whether DaBaby committed murder and bringing the rapper’s self-defense claim into doubt. Our original coverage has been updated to reflect conversations surrounding the just-released clip of the fatal episode.
That was the insinuation of Dave Chappelle, who lambasted DaBaby during a larger point about cancel culture. Referring to DaBaby’s cancellation following homophobic comments at Rolling Loud, here’s what Chappelle said:
DaBaby was the number one streaming artist until a few weeks ago. He took a nasty spill on stage, and said some uh… said some wild stuff about the LGBTQ community during a concert in Florida.
Now you know I go hard in the paint, but even I saw that s—t and was like, ‘God damn DaBaby!’ [crowd laughter] Oooh, he pushed the button didn’t he? He pushed the button, punched the LGBTQ community right in the AIDS.
Can’t do that. Can’t do that.
But I do believe — and I’ll make this point later — that the kid made a very egregious mistake, I will acknowledge that. But ya know, a lot of the LGBTQ community doesn’t know DaBaby’s history. He’s a wild guy.
He once shot a n—r and killed him in Walmart. Oh this is true — Google it. DaBaby shot and killed a n—r in Walmart. In North Carolina. Nothing bad happened to his career. Do you see where I’m going with this?
In our country you can shoot and kill a n—r. But you’d better not hurt a gay person’s feelings.
Chappelle is right: in November of 2018, DaBaby killed someone inside a Walmart in Huntersville, a suburb of Charlotte, North Carolina. But the situation surrounding the Walmart shooting and resulting murder is more complex than what Chappelle presented.
After the shooting, pandemonium ensued inside the store as patrons stampeded towards the exits. Cops quickly responded — with one officer already inside the store on routine patrol. But it was initially unclear who had been involved in the shooting or what had taken place. Inside the empty store, police only found the dead body of 19-year-old Jaylin Domonique Craig, who died from multiple gunshot wounds.
Within days, local Charlotte news reports confirmed that rapper DaBaby (real name Jonathan Kirk) was one of four individuals being held for questioning. Soon thereafter, DaBaby released an Instagram video from a hospital bed confirming that he had fired shots in the altercation in self-defense.
“If them gunshots ain’t go off, n—a, my f—kin’ daughter could’ve got hit, son could’ve got hit, me,” DaBaby alleged. “F—kin’ lawyers telling me not to say something and s—t, f—k all that. Two n—as walk down on you and your whole muthaf—kin’ family, threaten y’all, whip out on y’all, n—a, let me see what y’all gon’ too. You feel me?”
DaBaby alleged that immediately prior to the Walmart shooting murder, he’d been violently robbed by two men while shopping with his family. The assailants were allegedly armed and potentially trying to kill the rapper — and camera footage supplied by Walmart eventually backed that defense in the eyes of the court.
By March of 2019, a judge had agreed with DaBaby’s legal argument of self-defense and dropped the murder charges. The rapper was only charged with the misdemeanor offense of carrying a concealed weapon.
But in late April of 2022, Rolling Stone released a new security-camera recording of the pre-shooting confrontation and the aftermath of the deadly incident. A number of fans and observers promptly took to social media to weigh in on the nearly minute-long clip, which begins with DaBaby appearing to run towards, push, and then strike an individual named Henry Douglas.
It’s unclear what Douglas (a friend of Craig’s) and DaBaby said to one another directly before their dispute turned physical – the footage doesn’t include audio – though the former person’s hands seemed to be in and around his sweatshirt pocket until the “Lonely” artist made contact.
The two subsequently fought their way across the center aisle and out of the nearest camera’s range, the video shows, with customers standing back from the brawl as people including a concerned-looking Mariah Osborne (DaBaby’s partner at the time) followed the fight.
DaBaby and Douglas continued to clash in an adjacent center aisle, and Craig, Osborne, and others approached the clinching combatants as they came to a standstill. In a quick sequence of events, while the fistfight between DaBaby and Douglas proceeded, Osborne seemed to walk past them and strike Craig, according to the footage.
The final angle of the video shows a bystander, evidently frightened by the gunshots that claimed the life of Craig, abandoning her shopping cart. DaBaby slid into the center aisle, stood up, pointed, and then holstered his firearm without taking additional shots, per the recording.
After DaBaby was charged with carrying a concealed weapon, the family of Craig made clear their belief that the Cleveland-born rapper had gotten away with murder. Now, about 42 months after Craig’s passing, his relatives still maintain that he was murdered by DaBaby, who’s broached the subject in multiple songs.
And unlike when Dave Chappelle released The Closer in October of 2021, multiple fans are expressing the opinion that DaBaby committed murder by shooting Craig – with different observers indicating that the new footage has, at the very least, changed their opinion of the matter.
“That’s less self defense than I had been led to believe,” one of the latter individuals commented on the above-described video.
Notwithstanding these updated responses to the shooting, others continue to feel that DaBaby was justified in pulling the trigger, including because the victim was also armed. Needless to say, the footage that’s driving ongoing conversations about DaBaby’s actions was considered when the aforementioned misdemeanor charge (as opposed to murder) was handed down.
Time will reveal the possible media and/or commercial fallout from the shooting for DaBaby, who hadn’t addressed the renewed interest and scrutiny at the time of this piece’s publishing. And it remains to be seen whether public opinion will become more aligned with Dave Chappelle’s view of the episode in the long term, particularly since DaBaby has reportedly been involved with a separate shooting in the interim.
However, in serving as a reminder of physical confrontations’ potential to spiral out of control, related dialogue may help to prevent the tragic and wholly unnecessary loss of life in similar situations moving forward.