Another day, another Justin Bieber legal mess. According to TMZ, a photographer has filed a lawsuit against the pop star and his bodyguard for unspecified damages, claiming that – on the night of Bieber’s January DUI and drag racing arrest in Miami Beach – the singer’s bodyguard injured the paparazzo and locked him in a Subway restaurant.
Munoz claims he was taking photos of Bieber as the 20-year-old was exiting Miami Beach’s SET Nightclub. This angered bodyguard Dwayne Patterson, who allegedly chased Munoz into a nearby Subway, locked the door behind them, cornered him the restaurant’s bathroom and demanded that he delete the photos he’d taken. Munoz states that he was kicked and punched by the bodyguard, who forcibly attempted to remove the memory card from his camera.
TMZ has obtained audio from three separate 911 calls related to the incident. In the first recording, an unnamed male present at the scene denies seeing any visible weapons and notes that he was asked to make the call after a dispute erupted over “some pictures or something.” The two subsequent calls are allegedly from Munoz – in the first of the pair, the caller appears to say, “They have locked the place. They have me in the corner. . . I need help.”
In a police report obtained by TMZ, Munoz never mentions being physically attacked – he notes that he was tripped by a bodyguard, causing a “small scratch in his left knee.” Elsewhere in the report, Munoz claims he offered to hand over the photos for $10,000, but the bodyguard would only agree to $5,000.
Howard Weitzman, Bieber’s attorney, commented on the suit to TMZ, claiming it’s “yet another shakedown for money.”
“The paparazzo admits that Justin was not present at the alleged ‘assault,'” he says. “The paparazzo told the police he had only scratched his knee when he was allegedly tripped, but now claims he was beat up. There are no damages.”
The past few months have been rough for Bieber – from the reportedly negative crowd response he faced at the Juno Awards to his recent cell phone quasi-encounter with a fan in L.A. Nonetheless, he’s still managed to stay productive musically with a new single, “Hard 2 Face Reality,” and an upcoming “collaboration” with the late Michael Jackson.