Rap mogul Sean “Diddy” Combs won’t face felony charges after being arrested last week for allegedly attacking a UCLA intern and an assistant football coach during a dispute over his son, a player on the Bruins squad.
UCLA police accused Combs of several serious crimes, including assault with a deadly weapon, making criminal threats and battery, after he allegedly swung a kettlebell weight during a confrontation at a UCLA gym.
Prosecutors did not say why they chose not to file felony charges. But law enforcement sources familiar with the investigation said the decision was based in part on the fact that Combs waved the kettlebell at several people in the gym and that no one was seriously injured. The sources spoke on the condition of anonymity because they were not authorized to discuss the matter.
Ricardo Santiago, a spokesman for the Los Angeles County district attorney’s office, said the case was referred to the L.A. city attorney to decide whether Combs' conduct amounts to a misdemeanor.
“We are thankful that the district attorney rejected felony charges in this matter,” said Mark Geragos, Combs’ attorney. “This case never should have been part of the criminal justice system to begin with.”
UCLA officials declined to comment.
Sources have said the confrontation happened after UCLA conditioning coach Sal Alosi, dissatisfied with the younger Combs' effort during a voluntary summer workout, told the junior defensive back to get off the field, not just for the rest of the day but for the rest of the summer.
Later that afternoon, the younger Combs and his father walked into Alosi's office, adjacent to the 15,000-square-foot weight room in the basement of the Acosta Athletic Complex. Alosi was on the phone. He motioned for the visitors to wait, the sources said.
At some point, the encounter reportedly became heated. In one account, Alosi reportedly tried to fend off an angry Combs, who left his shirt torn.
Sources say the dispute spilled out of Alosi’s office and drew the attention of four or five interns who work in and around the weight room.
Combs allegedly grabbed a kettlebell — a handled, heavyweight ball — off a shelf and swung it, the sources said. A security camera in the weight room captured that part of the incident.
UCLA has declined to release a detailed account of the incident.
Combs’ spokesperson has insisted that the rapper’s actions in the gym were “solely defensive in nature to protect himself and his son.”
Legal experts said the decision not to file felony charges was not necessarily surprising.
Former L.A. County Dist. Atty. Steve Cooley said arrests for assault with a deadly weapon can be “wobblers,” meaning they can be charged either as felonies or misdemeanors.
“It happens all the time. It is the nature of the crime,” Cooley said. “When there is an arrest, about half the time it goes down to a misdemeanor.”
Prosecutors consider several factors, he said, including the type of weapon or instrument used, the level of injuries and the criminal history of the accused.
“When you miss with a kettlebell and there are no injuries, no recent criminal history and it is a parent-coach argument rather than a street crime, the totality of the circumstance doesn’t add up to a felony crime beyond a reasonable doubt,” said Dmitry Gorin, a defense attorney and former prosecutor.
Still, Gorin said, Combs “dodged a very big bullet here” given the fact that he would have faced several years in prison had he been charged and convicted of the felonies.
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