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Closing Arguments Start in Actor-Paparazzo Case

TIMES STAFF WRITER

Actor Alec Baldwin hit a “mousy-looking” paparazzo not in self-defense, but because the man had the audacity to film the actor and his family without his consent, a lawyer for celebrity photographer Alan Zanger told a jury Thursday.

Describing Baldwin as a “bear” of a man at 6 feet and 200 pounds, Leonard Steiner said his much smaller client would have to be crazy or on drugs to have attacked Baldwin.

Each claims the other started the fight, and each has claimed damages in the Van Nuys civil trial that reached closing arguments Thursday.

“He’s a take-control guy and he is livid--the nerve of this little mousy-looking guy, this paparazzi,” Steiner said. “This is a big man, Mr. Baldwin, and he’s an imposing figure. Why on God’s Earth would Mr. Zanger strike Mr. Baldwin?”

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Zanger was parked outside Baldwin’s Woodland Hills home on Oct. 26, 1995, hoping to get footage of the actor, his wife, Kim Basinger, and their 3-day-old daughter Ireland as they came home from the hospital.

Zanger claimed that Baldwin smacked him in the face, then kicked him. Baldwin admitted hitting the photographer, but testified that he acted in self-defense. He said Zanger raised his camera in a threatening manner and Baldwin tried to slap it away, accidentally hitting the photographer in the face with the device. He said Zanger then charged him, and he responded by pushing and kicking him.

“I think he made up this story. He belted Zanger and he panicked,” Steiner said.

Steiner pointed out inconsistencies between Baldwin’s account of the incident to emergency operators, responding police officers, jurors during a criminal trial, parties in a deposition and his testimony in civil court. In particular, Baldwin never told officers that he acted in self-defense when he swung at Zanger, Steiner said.

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Baldwin was charged with misdemeanor battery but was acquitted by jurors who said that Zanger ruined his credibility when he admitted to exaggerating the incident during a media interview.

Baldwin’s attorney, Philip D. Weiss, will make his closing argument today.


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