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Swedish hip-hop artist likens fatal encounter to movie 'Crash'

January 9, 2009 |  1:17 pm

A racist cop tries to save a African-American woman trapped due to a car accident in

A lawyer for a Swedish hip-hop artist accused of murdering a pedestrian in a sensational act of road rage invoked the movie “Crash” today in asking for a reduction in the performer’s $1-million bail.

In court papers, David Jassy’s attorney wrote that the fatal encounter in a Hollywood crosswalk was a “prime” example of the Academy Award-winning film’s “thesis ... that random interactions of diverse people in a City as frenetic as Los Angeles can lead to disastrous consequences.”

Police say Jassy, 34, punched, kicked and then ran over John Osnes, a 57-year-old jazz pianist, during the Nov. 23 incident. Witnesses told police that Osnes, who did not own a car and was a stickler for pedestrian rights, struck the front of Jassy’s SUV after it edged into the crosswalk.

In the filing, lawyer Donald Etra wrote that further investigation and forensic tests were required to determine the facts, but his summary of the alleged crime suggested Jassy may contend that Osnes played a more aggressive role than authorities have said. The lawyer labeled the incident a “fight” and said Osnes was “angry that his way was partially blocked” and had “pounded his fists on [Jassy’s] vehicle.”

Osnes was an inch taller than Jassy, according to jail and coroner’s records, but Jassy outweighed him by about 40 pounds. Jassy “has never been in trouble before, and, never in his wildest dreams did he ever think he would find himself in jail, especially for an offense as serious as this one,” his attorney wrote.

He arrived in October from Sweden, where he has an 11-year-old son and a following as performer, songwriter and producer. His work in the U.S. includes rapping on the album of “High School Musical” star Ashley Tisdale.

In asking that his bail be reduced to $100,000 to $250,000, his lawyer noted that Jassy surrendered his passport and agreed to electronic monitoring. A spokeswoman for the Los Angeles County district attorney’s office said prosecutors would oppose at a Jan. 23 hearing any reduction in bail. A memorial service for Osnes is planned for Saturday at 1 p.m. at the Piano Bar in Hollywood.

--Harriet Ryan

Photo: Actor Matt Dillon in a scene from "Crash." Credit: Lorey Sebastian / New Line