Police investigating the criminal battery complaint against Justin Bieber have spoken to the alleged victim in the case and are now looking to talk to other witnesses to Sunday’s altercation, including Bieber and girlfriend Selena Gomez.
A spokesperson for the Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department confirmed to MTV News that police had interviewed the unnamed victim, a paparazzi photographer who claims that Bieber struck him after he tried to take pictures of the “Boyfriend” singer and Gomez at the Commons at Calabasas Shopping Center on Sunday afternoon.
In addition to the celebrity couple, investigators are looking for any other witnesses to the incident to help piece together a narrative of what went down during the scuffle. There has been no detailed information to date on what injuries were allegedly suffered by the photographer, who complained of pain and was transported by the Los Angeles County Fire Department to a local hospital, where he was treated and released.
According to The Los Angeles Times, legal experts examining the potential case against Bieber, 18, say that the key issue is whether the pop star acted in self-defense.
“These guys will often make it impossible for the celebrity to pass,” said former deputy district attorney Dmitry Gorin of the obstacles paparazzi photographers often set for stars that sometimes end in physical contact.
“Bieber could face a charge if he pushed or hit the photographer and it was not in self-defense,” Gorin said. “But it is not really a jail-time offense.”
He said the case would likely be a misdemeanor battery unwitnessed by police and the alleged victim could make a citizens arrest, at which point prosecutors would decide whether to file charges. The maximum sanction if convicted is six months in jail, but due to chronic overcrowding, his first-time offender status and the lack of police witnesses, it’s highly unlikely Bieber would serve anywhere close to that term.
As of press time, the Los Angeles County District Attorney’s Office had not officially taken up the case. A spokesperson for Bieber, who is out of the country promoting his upcoming Believe album, had no comment on the matter.
On Tuesday, a spokesperson for the D.A.’s office said that no case has been presented to that office yet, but that it’s possible once interviews are conducted that it will be referred for possible prosecution.
Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department spokesperson Lieutenant Margarito Robles told MTV News on Tuesday that the investigation is ongoing and that there was no update on its progress at press time. He also noted that a large percentage of these kinds of cases do get presented to the D.A.’s office, where it is left up to prosecutors to decide how, or if, to proceed.