By Andrew Blankstein, Los Angeles Times –
LOS ANGELES—Citing insufficient evidence, prosecutors announced Wednesday that they will not pursue criminal charges in connection with an altercation last May in Calabasas in which pop star Justin Bieber allegedly punched and kicked a photographer.
Los Angeles County sheriff’s detectives investigated allegations by a photographer that Bieber struck him after he snapped photographs of the singer and his then-girlfriend, actress Selena Gomez, at the Commons at Calabasas Shopping Center.
But officials with the Los Angeles County district attorney’s office said no evidence, including videos and photographs, showed that the physical altercation included the alleged instances in which Bieber punched and kicked the paparazzo, who was treated and released at a local hospital.
“There is no additional corroborative evidence for victim’s statement, but there is contradictory evidence,” said Deputy District Attorney Mara McIlvain. “There is iinsufficient evidence for proof beyond a reasonable doubt.”
According to the narrative by prosecutors, the photographer whom Bieber was accused of assaulting was with other paparazzo taking pictures of the pop star and Gomez as they left a theater and walked to a parking lot.
The victim continued to take pictures as Bieber and Gomez got into a van. Bieber then got out of the vehicle and ran at the photographer before, the photographer alleged, kicking him in the lower abdomen, “leading the suspect to lose his balance,” prosecutors said.
When the photographer said Bieber’s actions were unnecessary, the pop star allegedly punched him in the right side of the face. Bieber then got back in the van and drove “erratically in the parking lot” before leaving the shopping center, prosecutors said.
Los Angeles County fire personnel examined the photographer, noting no apparent sign of injury. A Los Angeles County sheriff’s deputy also did not see injuries, according to the narrative.
The photographer was taken to West Hills Hospital and Medical Center, where doctors noted “only superficial injuries.”
While Bieber skirts criminal charges in that case he still has had his share of brushes with the law.
Earlier this month Bieber was cited by authorities for a traffic violation involving a high-end sports car, his second in six months.
Bieber was pulled over in a white Ferrari about 6:30 p.m. Nov. 14 and was cited for making an unsafe left turn and having an expired registration.
That incident comes less than six months after Bieber was pulled over by the California Highway Patrol on the 101 Freeway in the San Fernando Valley and cited for driving his Fisker sports car at high speed. The pop star said then that he was being chased by a freelance paparazzo.
Los Angeles city prosecutors filed charges against the photographer, Paul Raef, 30, for allegedly chasing Bieber and then speeding off when police tried to pull both Bieber and Raef over.
Raef is the first paparazzo to be charged under a 2010 state law that adds penalties for paparazzi driving dangerously in order to shoot images they can sell. But Judge Tom Rubinson threw out the counts related to that law, saying they violated the First Amendment.