Ludacris’ manager Chaka Zulu charged with murder in June shooting

Credit: Fulton County Sheriff's Office

Credit: Fulton County Sheriff's Office

Lawyer says he acted in self defense

Two-and-a-half months after a Buckhead triple shooting claimed the life of a 23-year-old man, rapper Ludacris’ longtime manager, Chaka Zulu, has been charged with murder, according to police. In a statement, Zulu’s lawyer said he acted in self-defense, discharging a weapon he is licensed to carry after being attacked.

The 52-year-old music executive, whose full name is Ahmed Chaka Zulu Obafemi, was badly injured in the June 26 shooting in the parking lot of a Buckhead shopping center in the 2200 block of Peachtree Road. His lawyer, Gabe Banks, says he is “still recovering from the nearly fatal injuries he sustained that evening.”

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The shooting killed Artez Jamil Benton, 23, a DeKalb County native and a recent college graduate.

“I’m sure that once we get to the bottom of this, justice will be served,” Benton’s father, Artis Benton, told The Atlanta Journal-Constitution Sunday. He declined further comment.

“It is not lost on Mr. Zulu that someone lost his life, but had Mr. Zulu not lawfully defended himself, Mr. Zulu would have been killed that night,” Banks’ statement said.

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Zulu surrendered Sept. 13 and was booked into the Fulton County jail on four charges, including murder, aggravated assault, simple battery and possession of a firearm during the commission of a felony, booking records showed. He was released the same day on $200,000 bond, according to jail records.

It was the first arrest in the case since the night of the shooting.

Banks’ full statement was issued early Sunday to the AJC:

  • “Mr. Chaka Zulu, a beloved son of the City of Atlanta, is disappointed in the Atlanta Police Department’s decision to bring charges against him surrounding the shooting that occurred in June 2022. A close review of all the evidence, including the surveillance footage and eyewitness interviews, reveals that Mr. Zulu was attacked and jumped from behind by a gang of at least four individuals (sadly including the decedent) and was forced to defend himself after this gang repeatedly stomped, punched and kicked him while he was on the ground in a defenseless posture. Mr. Zulu was shot in the back during the shooting and nearly lost his life, and is still recovering from the nearly fatal injuries he sustained that evening. Mr. Zulu was at his place of business that might and had every reason to defend himself. In an attempt to save his life, Mr. Zulu lawfully discharged his weapon in self-defense, a weapon that he is licensed to carry. Mr. Zulu fully cooperated with law enforcement officials and their investigation, and voluntarily turned himself in once he teared of the arrest warrants. Mr. Zulu remains confident that his name will be cleared of all charges through the judicial process. It is not lost on Mr. Zulu that someone lost his life, but had Mr. Zulu not lawfully defended himself, Mr. Zulu would have been killed that night.”

In the days after the shooting, celebrities were among those who turned to social media to wish Zulu a quick recovery.

“Prayers for Brother Chaka Zulu,” Questlove, frontman for The Roots, posted on Twitter.

Former Atlanta Mayor Kasim Reed served as a spokesman for the family after the shooting, while Zulu remained hospitalized.

“We are fortunate to report that Chaka Zulu is in stable condition and recovering,” Reed said at the time. “The family thanks everyone for their well wishes and prayers, and asks for their privacy at this time.”

Benton’s loved ones described him as a hard-working young man full of ambition and dedicated to his family.

“He did everything right,” Artis Benton, told the AJC after the shooting. " I never thought that this would be the end for him.”

His son graduated with honors from Druid Hills High School then attended Young Harris College, recruited as a baseball player, and also receiving a partial academic scholarship. After graduating last year with his business degree, Benton started an apprenticeship at Mayberry Electric, an Atlanta-based electrical contractor, working through a five-year program to become a licensed electrician. He and a group of friends had also recently launched a clothing line, Cash Life Global.

“We just want justice for Artez,” Arteria Benton, his older sister, told the AJC after the shooting. “That’s the main thing we want. So if you see something, say something please.”

Zulu is scheduled to attend a charity event this week benefitting the Winship Cancer Institute of Emory University.

- Staff writer Caroline Silva contributed to this article.