Kanye West under investigation for paparazzi assault
Kanye West’s battles with the paparazzi continued Friday afternoon when he reportedly assaulted a cameraman who was trying to speak with him outside Los Angeles International Airport.
The cameraman was among a group of paparazzi following West as he exited the airport around 1:30pm, according to a witness and police report.
In a video released by TMZ, the photographer appears to be filming West and asking him questions, which angers the rapper.
West then approaches the photographer, and the video gets blurry.
“I saw Kanye go after him, and the paparazzi falling down,” Samir Chantre, a traveller who witnessed the altercation outside the airport, tells theGrio. “[West] kept going over the paparazzi. The paparazzi tried to protect himself and then run away, and then people pulled them off [each other].”
More details from the scene
Chantre, who claims he can be seen in the video, viewed most of the incident but did not see exactly what West did to the cameraman. Chantre says the two were blocked from his view, as they were on the ground behind a car.
After the physical exchange, Chantre says West got into a car and drove off, and describes the cameraman as “just fine” in appearance.
“The photographer just held his hand over his mouth the whole time,” Chantre observes. “Afterwards, he kind of overreacted. Like, faking it a little bit.”
West under investigation
Following the scuffle, the Los Angeles police launched a battery investigation.
In an email statement to theGrio, an LAX police spokesperson confirmed the report, though she did not mention West by name.
“Today at approximately 2:00 p.m., at the Tom Bradley International Terminal (on the arrival level curbside), Los Angeles Airport Police officers were flagged down by a citizen (photographer) who alleged that he was taking pictures of an individual when he was battered by the subject,” the statement says.
It continues, “The alleged subject was not at the location, nor was he observed by officers at the scene. LAFD was notified, responded to the location and transported the victim to a local hospital for medical attention. A police report was taken by the Los Angeles Police Department and the investigation is ongoing.”
A representative for West did not respond to a request for comment.
Recalls Chantre, the 36-year-old rap star was in the company of one other man who “could have been a bodyguard,” but who did not react or get involved with the fight.
Conversely, the photographer stood up and became irritated with the other cameramen, who were reportedly laughing and filming him.
“He was like, ‘Oh you guys should have asked if I was fine before you started laughing and taking pictures,’” Chantre says.
A source told E! News that the photographer is currently undergoing x-rays on his hip.
A history of violence
While an investigation may be underway, another media spokesperson for the LAPD tells theGrio that charges are unlikely to be filed, if at all, for days.
Nevertheless, this wouldn’t be the first time the Grammy-Award-winner has faced assault indictments.
Reports Billboard, in 2009, West was charged with three misdemeanors counts – vandalism, battery and grand theft – over the videotaped destruction of a paparazzo’s camera after attacking a TMZ photographer outside LAX. The altercation occurred days after performing at the MTV Video Music Awards in 2008.
In court, the charges were dismissed on the condition West and his manager, Don Crowley, each completed 50 hours of community service.
That same year, West was arrested and later released on suspicion of assault when he allegedly attacked a photographer in northern England, reports Yahoo! News.
Furthermore, photographer Michael Vazquez sued West in 2011 for “serious and grievous personal injuries” caused during a New York City party in 2008, CNN reports.
A bad month for West?
Joe Levy, editor of Billboard, based the results on lack of promotion.
He said, “With almost absolutely no promotion and certainly nothing traditionally defined as album release promotion, no single, no video, no magazine covers…This is a fan reaction based purely on interest and anticipation.”
Follow Courtney Garcia on Twitter at @CourtGarcia