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Justin Bieber won't be charged in Sunset Strip run-in with paparazzo

July 31, 2013|By Andrew Blankstein
  • Justin Bieber won't face criminal charges for a scrape with a photographer outside a Sunset Strip comedy club in June. Above, Bieber performing this month in Buffalo, N.Y.
Justin Bieber won't face criminal charges for a scrape with a photographer… (Harry Scull Jr. / Associated…)

The L.A. County district attorney's office declined Wednesday to file criminal charges against Justin Bieber for allegedly hitting a paparazzo with his Ferrari outside The Laugh Factory comedy club.

Authorities investigated whether the singer knowingly left the scene of an accident after a run-in June 17 with a photographer outside the nightclub at 8001 Sunset Blvd.

Prosecutors said Bieber pulled away from the curb through a "clear path" when paparazzo Damon Walter "suddenly stepped in front of" the vehicle.

Walter was hit in the leg and briefly pinned between Bieber's car and a parked car, prosecutors said. The photographer then dropped his camera on the hood of the Ferrari and fell down, suffering minor scrapes to the legs, according to the document. He was treated at a local hospital and released.

Officers at the scene determined Walter was "at fault in the collision due to being in the roadway and blocking Bieber's vehicle," the filing rejection stated. 

The pop singer claimed through his attorney that he was unaware of contact with the photographer, and prosecutors said evidence appeared to back up that claim.

Given the entirety of the circumstances, prosecutors said, Bieber's claim that he did not know he hit anyone as he was leaving the club was both "reasonable and credible," the document states.

"There were over a dozen paparazzi surrounding his car and on the sidewalk, and it was noisy with camera flashes and bright lights surrounding him," the document states. "Given the scene and the stress of the situation, it is likely that Bieber did not know he had hit Walter."

Walter could not immediately be reached for comment on the prosecutors' filing.

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Twitter: @anblanx |Facebook | Google +

andrew.blankstein@latimes.com

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