Justin Bieber avoids felony robbery charge in cell phone ‘tussle’
LOS ANGELES (CNN) — Justin Bieber will not face a felony charge of robbery despite a woman’s claim the singer tried to steal her cell phone last month.
The Los Angeles County district attorney decided the incident at a miniature golf course on May 12 “does not warrant felony prosecution,” according to a document obtained by CNN Thursday.
The case will now go to the Los Angeles city attorney to decide if a misdemeanor charge will be filed against Bieber, the “evaluation worksheet” released by the prosecutor’s office said.
A woman filed the robbery complaint against Bieber on May 13, a day after the alleged incident happened and hours after she reported it to the celebrity website TMZ, the document said.
The accuser told Los Angeles Police Department robbery/homicide detectives that the incident began after she used her iPhone to take a photo of Bieber at the batting cages in the Sherman Oaks Castle Park. She put her phone away in her purse when the singer’s bodyguard asked her to not take pictures, she said.
Bieber “then approached and accused her of videotaping him,” she told police. “He demanded to see her phone, then reached into her purse and pulled the phone out,” the document said. Bieber and the woman “tussled over it for a moment,” she said.
“I’m not recording, I’ll show you,” she said she told police. After she showed Bieber her phone, he told her: “Why don’t you leave, you’re embarrassing your daughter.”
Her 13-year-old daughter began to cry, the woman said. The daughter later told investigators she was already crying from the excitement of being near Justin Bieber.
None of the nine park employees interviewed by police witnessed “any kind of physical altercation or tug-of-war,” the report said. No security cameras were in a position to capture video of the scene.
Bieber posted a series of tweets days after the incident, lamenting all the “rumors” he’s facing.
“It is hard to defend myself and my privacy every moment of the day … The truth will set u free,” he tweeted.
A source who’s close to Bieber and is familiar with the situation played down the incident.
“Justin was just enjoying hanging out with friends at the batting cage and playing mini-golf,” the source told CNN. “This just wasn’t a big deal.”
“The woman didn’t stand out,” the source said. “There were plenty of people taking pictures, some more aggressive than others … which is totally normal. … This is another example of someone making an issue where there isn’t one.”
Los Angeles County District Attorney Jackie Lacey is still considering if and how to prosecute Bieber for an alleged egging of his neighbor’s home in January. Investigators asked for a felony vandalism charge against him when they presented their evidence.