It’s now claimed that a photographer’s lawsuit against Justin Bieber and one of his bodyguard’s is exaggerated. In particular the gun component of the suit is denied outright, according to sources.
Photographer Jeffrey Binion claims he was assaulted by the pop star’s security guards and that the singer ordered the attack after he took pictures of Bieber.
The alleged assault incident took place in the parking lot of Miami’s Hit Factory recording studio on June 5. It is currently being investigated as a misdemeanor battery by Miami-Dade police in Florida.
“By instructing Defendant Hesny to forcibly take Plaintiff’s memory card from his camera, Defendant Bieber intended to cause harmful or offensive contact with the Plaintiff, and a harmful and offensive contact with the Plaintiff resulted from Bieber’s conduct.”
Binion claims he was held in a choke hold by Hesny and “strangled,” while three other guards removed a $100 memory card from his camera. He also says he was forced to delete material from the camera. In the suit it’s claimed Hesny’s gun was “displayed” during the alleged assault.
While the timing of the suit comes at a spectacularly bad time for Bieber and his security team, who are under investigation for battery after an alleged scuffle with a bystander at a Hollywood hookah lounge, it’s claimed Binion’s suit should not be taken at face value.
Despite typically incendiary language from the photog’s lawyer and creative reporting from some outlets inevitably morphing “displayed” a gun into “pulled a gun,” two sources reportedly deny firearms played any part in the incident.
The sources insist Binion’s claims are exaggerated and that “the gun episode didn’t happen.”
Although Bieber’s difficult relationship with paparazzi is well documented and has deteriorated as his fame quantumed, the insiders say the teen singer is constantly “harassed” and that paparazzi overstep when they aren’t “given the attention they demand.”
So what do we actually have here?
1) Is Binion stacking his suit? If the gun ‘threat’ and “strangling” aspects of his claim are believed, it could swing a judgment his way.
2) Binion claims he is not a paparazzo. But, as yet, there is no other reasonable explanation for why he was outside a recording studio taking multiple pictures of a 19-year-old.
3) By using the term “displayed” to describe his alleged encounter with Hesny’s gun, Binion and his lawyer could be giving themselves a wide enough berth to claim a firearm threat without actual basis.
4) In TMZ‘saudio of the 911 call Binion made after the alleged attack, he claims he was “strangled” yet his voice sounds clear, strong, and fluid, with only minor ‘breathiness’ audible.
Considering he told the operator the attack had “just” taken place, is it possible a “choke hold” has been exaggerated into “strangling?”
5) It is also odd that he did not mention a gun in the call since it is now part of his suit. Did the gun play less of a role, if any, in the alleged assault, than is now claimed?
Among previous incidents involving Bieber and paparazzi — detailed at length here — it’s worth noting that many of these instances involved provocation.
May 27, 2012:
Bieber allegedly scuffled with Jose Sarros as he snapped the Canadian star and Selena Gomez leaving a shopping center in Calabasas, Calif. Sarros called 911 and filed a police report saying he was kicked and punched.
Following that altercation, officials at the L.A District’s Attorney Office said in November that they would not be pursuing criminal charges against the singer. They cited insufficient evidence. At the time Los Angeles County fire personnel examined the photographer and noted no sign of injury, a view later echoed by an L.A. County sheriff’s deputy who went to the scene and by hospital staff.
July 6, 2012:
Bieber was pulled over in his chrome Fisker Karma by police for speeding on the 101 Freeway in the San Fernando Valley. However, the high speeds he was cited for were a result of trying to escape a pack of paparazzi. One in particular, Paul Raef, pursued him through traffic.
Later that same day, Bieber was again tailed by paparazzi. While trying to evade them, he called 911 telling the despatcher that the same paps who had pursued him earlier were again following him. In that call, Bieber said one of the officers who had cited him, said: “You waive your rights to privacy when you’re a celebrity.”
Paul Raef became the first photographer to be charged under California’s 2010 law which was designed to combat the problem of reckless paparazzi. The case was dismissed on November 14, 2012 after the judge said the charges violated Raef’s First Amendment rights.
January 1, 2013:
Chris Guerra, a 29-year-old paparazzo was hit by a passing car after he stopped to take pictures of Bieber’s white Ferrari that had been pulled over by police on Sepulveda Boulevard in L.A.
At the time, Guerra believed the Canadian was in car. But in fact the driver was Lil Twist, a rapper and close friend of the singer. The irony of that only serves to highlight the apparent recklessness of some paparazzi in pursuit of a target.
Debate on that subject followed Guerra’s death. As yet, no changes in paparazzi regulation have been made.
March 8, 2013:
A Brit paparazzo repeatedly swore at the teen singer as he left a hospital during the London leg of his Believe tour. Bieber’s equally expletive-filled “I’ll f**king beat the f**k out of you” response was widely reported.
Given the failure of Aerosmith’s Steven Tyler’s bid for a Hawaii only law to enforce celebrities’ rights to privacy and prevent paparazzi activities in clearly private moments, is it any wonder so many surround themselves with security when their rights to privacy under article 12 of the United Nations Universal Declaration of Human Rights are routinely ignored for commercial gain?
Five years ago it’s highly unlikely Bieber could have imagined becoming one of the biggest teenage superstars in history, or understand how that would impact his life. He and/or his bodyguards may well have crossed a line on June 5, but lets not pretend it hasn’t been crossed innumerable times by paparazzi and freelance photogs, or that stacking a lawsuit isn’t common practice.
[Images via Sugarscape]