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Kanye Won't Face Felony Charge In Pap Smackdown

9:35 AM, Aug 17, 2013   |    comments
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LOS ANGELES -- Kanye West's most recent smackdown with the paparazzi at the Los Angeles airport won't result in a felony charge, prosecutors said Friday.

But he's not off the legal hook today, and neither are the paparazzi in California.

The Los Angeles County district attorney's office declined to prosecute the rapper-turned-father-of-Kim Kardashian's baby. But the case will go to the city attorney for possible misdemeanor charges.

In the July 19 incident, West scuffled with a photographer who staked out the airport to snap photos. The pap pack routinely hang out at LAX to snag the comings and goings of celebs.

Videos showed West lunging at a photographer's camera and trying to wrestle it away. This was after a videographer followed him through the airport and out the door, pleading with West to talk to him, while West remained silent and glared. Just before getting in his car, he turned on the pap.

West has had similar run-ins with paparazzi at LAX in the past. Only a week before, he had demanded photographers leave him alone and get their cameras out of his face as he walked through the airport.

Prosecutors say the photographer in this latest case did not have a significant injury; his camera wasn't stolen, and it's not clear it was even damaged. They also say no weapon was used and West doesn't have a felony record.

The DA's decision is good news for West, whose hostile relationship with the media seems to have intensified since his daughter with Kardashian, North West, was born in June.

But it also suggests another amplification of California's continuing exasperation with the paparazzi. Complaints from their celebrity targets are mounting again, especially from those whose young children have been stalked by photographers.

Only this week, actresses Halle Berry and Jennifer Garner tearfully testified at the state legislature in Sacramento in favor of another proposed anti-paparazzi law (the state already has one), describing shouting matches and ordeals with cameramen (they're mostly men) who follow their families.

Not clear whether this new law will pass - hundreds of news organizations and not just paparazzi are opposed to it on First Amendment grounds - or if it does pass, whether it will survive inevitable constitutional challenges.

But it's a signal of the difficulties of balancing kids' privacy and a free press in a democracy with a First Amendment, unlike, say, in France. The debate is not going away.

USA TODAY

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