Kanye West pleads not guilty in altercation with paparazzo at LAX
Kanye West pleaded not guilty Thursday through his attorney to charges of battery and attempted grand theft in connection with a physical altercation at LAX with a paparazzo.
Attorney Blair Berk made the brief appearance at the Airport courthouse on West’s behalf on the two misdemeanor charges related to the July 19 incident. A pretrial hearing was scheduled for Jan. 23.
The photographer has sued the rapper for damages, but sources familar with the case said it could be resolved with a civil settlement.
West, who has long maintained a hostile stand toward paparazzi and even rapped about his contempt for the media, was captured on video wrestling with the photographer.
West’s representatives have insisted he did nothing more than try to prevent the photographer from taking a picture.
The Los Angeles County district attorney’s office declined to file a case, and the L.A. city attorney charged West with the lesser misdemeanor counts.
According to Deputy Dist. Atty. Amy-Hannah Broersma, West “attacked a freelance photographer” who was subsequently treated for contusions and muscle strain at Marina del Rey Hospital.
She wrote that the case was declined for felony prosecution after investigators from the Los Angeles Police Department’s robbery-homicide division presented its findings and a video of the incident was reviewed.
The prosecutor said an attempted robbery charge was declined because there was insufficient evidence of any “specific intent.” She added that felony assault charges were rejected because the victim did not sustain significant injuries.
The prosecutor noted the videographer’s camera was not booked into evidence and so “it is unknown whether it was damaged, therefore vandalism charges were not considered.”
Photographer Danny Ramos, represented by attorney Gloria Allred, sued West in August, alleging assault, battery, negligence and violation of civil rights.
Ramos told reporters Wednesday that the singer caught him off-guard.
“When Kanye West attacked me, I was in complete shock,” he said at a news conference with Allred, known for representing high-profile clients, including the love interests of Tiger Woods, as well as a former staffer for Bob Filner, who recently resigned as San Diego mayor under a cloud of sexual misconduct accusations.
“All I had done was ask him a question,” Ramos said. “I was terrified when Kanye started to come at me. I backed up because I felt from the look in his eyes, he was going to attack me.”
Allred said Ramos had simply asked to talk to the singer. West, she said, initially ignored him, but then turned toward the videographer.
“Then without provocation, Mr. West suddenly attacked Danny, punching him and attempting to wrestle Danny’s camera from his hands,” Allred said.
She said the videographer fell onto his knees on the sidewalk and sustained injuries to his right hip and was in great pain and had to be taken to a hospital. Allred said her client was seeking general and punitive damages in his lawsuit.
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