Burning Question: Why is Kanye West being singled out by authorities for allegedly attacking a paparazzi? Stars attack photographers all the time and get away with it. — Turin Mom, Tennessee
Let's not get ahead of ourselves. Yes, the rapper and his messiah complex are accused of tag-teaming a photographer at Los Angeles International Airport last Friday. The pap filed a police report claiming West tried to take the shutterbug's camera and caused him enough pain to require an ambulance ride to a local emergency room.
Four days earlier, West was photographed and videotaped going after a different pap, which resulted in the rapper issuing an ultimatum to leave him alone.
But — and it's a big but — no charges have yet been filed and no arrests have been made. As of now, the LAPD has merely referred its investigation into the July 19 incident to the L.A. District Attorney's Office for possible prosecution.
So. West may face an accusation of attempted robbery, for trying to steal the photographer's equipment, or the rapper may endure nothing at all.
Still, this case is unusual simply because of the specter of a district attorney. Usually, these kinds of star-on-snapper incidents never go that far.
"Usually these just go to a city attorney's office," defense attorney David Diamond explains. "From there, they'll either file charges or have an informational hearing where the celebrity is reprimanded and then they drop the charges. So in Kanye's case, it looks like they want to slam him a little harder."
There's been know comment from Team Yeezus. But he did get defended by his baby-mama's mama, Kris Jenner:
"You know what, I think it happens with anybody who gets upset with paparazzi-related issues is that they're obviously provoked to an extent that we see nothing about," she explained on "The Talk" last week. "I think that none of us know what happened the 15 minutes before that and how crazy it could have gotten. Knowing Kanye — and I do know him very, very well, and I'm very close to him — and I think that … he doesn't have a short temper like everyone thinks. This happens, but it happens for a reason. You know, it takes a long time to get somebody to push those buttons."
As for why target Kanye, that's a good question. After all, a slew of celebrities have clobbered paparazzi in the past without much blowback. Sienna Miller once swung a purse in a photographer's face. Woody Harrelson put a chokehold on a paparazzo and took his camera. A bald Britney Spears once infamously pounded on a photographer's car with an umbrella. Even pencil-necked Justin Bieber has indulged in an anti-pap lunge or two, sometimes through bodyguards.
Rob Kardashian allegedly assaulted a paparazzo in March but faced no criminal charges. Bieber's bodyguard got misdemeanor assault charges dropped. West himself was arrested after a scuffle with a British photographer in 2008, but faced no further legal consequences.
Diamond says that, most of the time, authorities simply don't want to waste man-hours and resources on cases they will probably lose.
"Understand, there is not going to be much public sympathy for paparazzi," Diamond points out, even though the photographers are legally in the right. "Ultimately as a prosecutor, you want to win your case."
This reasoning has been especially popular since Spears was unsuccessfully prosecuted on a different matter — driving without a proper license — in 2008.
"The jury acquitted her," Diamond points out. "And what it came down to is that a jury got googly eyes for a celebrity. It was complete jury nullification."
So: Don't be surprised if this latest Kanye kerfuffle turns out to be a whole lot of nothing.
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