Celebs, former Mayor Kasim Reed rally around Chaka Zulu after arrest on murder charge

Ludacris’ longtime manager faces charges in a fatal June shooting
Chaka Zulu, Ludacris' longtime manager and Co-CEO of Disturbing Tha Peace Records and Ebony Son Entertainment Inc., has been charged with murder in connection with a June shooting in which he was injured and a 23-year-old man was killed.

Credit: Alyssa Pointer/Alyssa.Pointer@ajc.com

Credit: Alyssa Pointer/Alyssa.Pointer@ajc.com

Chaka Zulu, Ludacris' longtime manager and Co-CEO of Disturbing Tha Peace Records and Ebony Son Entertainment Inc., has been charged with murder in connection with a June shooting in which he was injured and a 23-year-old man was killed.

Prominent artists and Atlanta’s former mayor are showing support for Chaka Zulu amid news the longtime manager for artist Ludacris faces murder and other charges stemming from a June 26 shooting that left Zulu seriously injured and another man dead.

Celebrities including 50 Cent, Lil Jon, Busta Rhymes, Tyrese Gibson, Terri Vaughn, Shanti Das, Kandi Burruss, Tank and Keri Hilson and former Atlanta mayor Kasim Reed are among the hundreds weighing in on Zulu’s behalf via social media.

“Praying for you,” wrote Burruss, the recording artist, restaurateur and “Real Housewives of Atlanta” cast member.

“We love you Chaka,” wrote Hilson, the recording artist and actress. “We have not ceased praying for your health and full recovery and now we include your freedom and justice in our prayers. Take the time you need brother, we got you. Love you.”

“The truth takes time,” wrote Reed, who also served as a spokesman for Zulu’s family after the shooting, while he remained hospitalized. “Looking forward to your vindication.”

The messages of support were in response to Zulu’s post sharing his lawyer’s statement saying he acted in self-defense after he was attacked by a group of people the night of the shooting that left Artez Jamil Benton, 23, dead. He was a DeKalb County native and a recent college graduate.

Benton’s father, Artis Benton, told the AJC he declined to comment on Zulu’s arrest, saying only, “I’m sure that once we get to the bottom of this, justice will be served.”

The shooting in the parking lot of a Buckhead shopping center in the 2200 block of Peachtree Road left Zulu, 52, seriously injured and he is still recovering from what his lawyer, Gabe Banks, described as “nearly fatal injuries.”

The post was the first Zulu, whose full name is Ahmed Chaka Zulu Obafemi, has made since the shooting and it notes, “Mr. Zulu will not be commenting on this matter further and asks for privacy during this time.”

Zulu’s sister Aiyisha Obafemi demanded justice and criticized the Atlanta Police Department for failing to do a full investigation in a post of her own.

“Not only has APD charged my brother, they have not charged the people who jumped and stomped him (including the deceased), nor the person who shot him,” she wrote. “They have the names, witness statements, video surveillance, etc. We demand justice and that a full investigation is done. Chaka has been a son of Atlanta for over 30 years and his character and reputation speak for themselves. Put some respect on his name!”

Ludacris’ wife, Eudoxie Bridges, posted a praying hands emoji on Obafemi’s page in support.

Others who shared their support on their own social media pages include television personality La La Anthony, fashion photographer Jonathan Mannion, Vogue-featured artist Miko Underwood and TedX speaker Dr. Nicole Garner Scott.

“We are with you and standing with you 100% believe it,” wrote actor Tyrese Gibson, who appeared with Ludacris in several of the “Fast & Furious” movies, some filmed in Atlanta. “Stay strong Chaka whatever you need bro you know I got you 100%.”

Lil Jon, who appeared with Ludacris on Usher’s hit “Yeah,” lent his support with several praying-hands emojis.

Banks, Zulu’s lawyer, pointed to surveillance footage and eyewitness interviews he said shows his client was forced to defend himself after being “repeatedly stomped, punched and kicked” while on the ground by at least four people, allegedly including Benton.

No surveillance footage has been released in the case.

“Mr. Zulu was shot in the back during the shooting and nearly lost his life,” Banks wrote, adding, “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.”

Zulu turned himself in to the Fulton County Jail for booking on Sept. 13. He faces 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 a $200,000 bond, according to jail records.

At the time of the shooting, Benton’s family and friends described him as a hard-working young man full of ambition and dedication to his family.

“Just an overall businessman,” his sister, Arteria Benton, told the AJC at the time. “He just was a giver. He didn’t ask for nothing.”

Her brother graduated high school with honors, earned a degree in business and had launched a clothing line, Cash Life Global, all while beginning a five-year apprenticeship to become a licensed electrician.

“He did everything right,” his father, Artis Benton, said. “I never thought that this would be the end for him.”