Kanye West

Kanye West performing at the BET Awards in Los Angeles in 2012. (Matt Sayles / Invision/Associated Press / July 1, 2012)

Rapper Kanye West may like to be the focus of attention, but LAPD's Robbery Homicide Division is probably not what he had in mind.

The elite Los Angeles police division that investigates high profile murders, robberies and sexual assaults is now handling the probe in an altercation between  Kanye West and a photographer last Friday at Los Angeles International Airport, said Cmdr. Andy Smith.

West, who has long maintained a hostile stance toward the paparazzi and even rapped about his contempt for the media, was captured on video wrestling a paparazzo to the ground.

A video shows West emerging from the airport and heading toward a waiting car. He then stops and appears to get into an argument with one of numerous photographers on scene.

The video, obtained by TMZ, shows West grabbing the photographer and attempting to take his camera.

In the video, West appears to have the photographer in a virtual headlock as he forces him to the ground. The pair appear to be struggling over a camera.

Samir Chantre, a Brazilian jiujitsu instructor who was returning from Brazil at the time, said in a telephone interview with The Times that the incident occurred about 2 p.m. outside the international terminal.

When West exited the airport, Chantre said, "five photographers started shooting pictures of him and one of them was over the microphone and was saying stuff to him," Chantre said.

According to Chantre, West "seemed like he was getting offended" and ran after one of the photographers.

Chantre said the two were pulled apart by onlookers.

Paramedics were called to the scene after the paparazzo complained of injuries. 

West left the area before police arrived.

The Los Angeles District Attorney's office has yet to receive anything from the LAPD.

This isn't the rapper isn't first incident with the paparazzi at LAX.

West and his road manager were arrested at LAX the morning of Sept. 11, 2008, on suspicion of felony vandalism after they confronted two paparazzi outside the passenger screening area in Terminal 4 and smashed the men's cameras, authorities said.

The confrontation escalated when a TMZ videographer and a still photographer from a paparazzi agency approached West and and his road manager, Don Crawley, outside the terminal as they prepared to catch a commercial flight to Honolulu, officials said.

In a video shot by a TMZ employee, West and Crawley are shown yelling at the paparazzi and struggling with the photographer for his camera and its flash before slamming the equipment to the ground. As the TMZ videographer continued to shoot, Crawley appeared to grab at the video camera.

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richard.winton@latimes.com