Kanye West unlikely to face felony charges over photographer fight

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

This post has been corrected, as noted below.

Rapper Kanye West probably won’t face any felony charges over his altercation with a photographer at Los Angeles International Airport and may even be able to resolve a misdemeanor battery charge by compensating the photographer, sources said.

After reviewing video of last Friday’s altercation, detectives agreed with the rapper’s lawyer that it doesn’t amount to an attempted robbery, according to two sources familiar with the investigation.

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


His lawyer has insisted to Robbery Homicide Division detectives that West was simply trying to stop the photographer from taking a picture.

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. He appears to have the photographer in a virtual headlock as he forces him to the ground. While a camera is between the pair, his lawyer told authorities the video shows he never grabbed it.

Now that West is part of the Kardarshian clan, he may be seeking a resolution like Robert Kardashian. He was charged with battery and theft and reached a civil compromise by paying the other party damages.


Samir Chantre, a Brazilian jujitsu 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.

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


West has had other run-ins with 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 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.


[For the record, 5:40 p.m. July 25: An earlier version of this post incorrectly stated that West’s attorney, Blair Berk, also represented Robert Kardashian.]


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