LIHUE — A Kauai photographer is suing Canadian music star Justin Bieber and his bodyguard for assaulting him and destroying his camera at Shipwreck’s Beach in November.
The lawsuit stems from a Nov. 20, 2013, incident when Aja Oxman was taking photos of Bieber jumping from the bluff on the east end of Shipwreck’s.
In his complaint, Oxman alleges Bieber ordered his bodyguard, Dwayne Patterson, to take the Kauai photographer’s memory card. Patterson then reportedly placed Oxman in a chokehold, causing serious injury.
Reached by phone Wednesday, Oxman, who operates Aja Oxman Photography, Inc. out of Kilauea, declined to comment on the complaint other than to say it was filed Tuesday in California.
“I’d rather not give any statements,” he said.
The complaint seeks unspecified damages in excess of $25,000 for assault and battery, negligence and intentional infliction of emotional distress.
Oxman is represented by Los Angeles attorney Sark Ohanian, who did not return phone calls seeking comment Tuesday.
Although the lawsuit reportedly does not claim Bieber physically attacked Oxman, it alleges that he joined Patterson in destroying the photographer’s property.
In his complaint, Oxman claims Bieber told Patterson to “do whatever you have to do to get that card,” and that Patterson grabbed him in a chokehold, lifted him up and slammed him into the hood of a vehicle, Billboard.com reported.
Levi Lancaster, a witness, told The Garden Island at the time of the incident that he watched the photographer sprint from the beach to the parking lot while two security guards chased him. When the two guards caught up to the man at his car, Patterson — who Lancaster identified by his mug shot — “put the man in a headlock and lifted him off the ground until he dropped his camera and keys,” he said.
“He was really calling for help,” Lancaster said of the victim at the time.
Most disturbing, Lancaster said, was that Bieber — famous for pop hits “Baby” and “Boyfriend” who’s had run-ins with the law before —screamed at Patterson to make sure he got the man’s camera.
Patterson, 32, of Florida, was arrested at the scene for third-degree assault and fourth-degree criminal property damage.
In March, he pleaded no contest to harassment, a petty misdemeanor, and third-degree criminal property damage exceeding $500, a misdemeanor. He was sentenced July 8 to one year probation, $5,701.60 in restitution and $3,000 in fines.
“We are pleased that we were able to get full restitution for the victim in the case and avoid the spectacle of a trial,” Kauai Prosecuting Attorney Justin Kollar wrote in an email to TGI. “Celebrities visiting our island should understand that beaches in Hawaii are open to everyone, and individuals have the right to take photos at those beaches.”
Bieber, 20, was not arrested and no charges were filed against him due to a lack of evidence that he ordered Patterson to attack Oxman, Kollar added. He said Patterson has fully paid the restitution to Oxman.
Email messages sent to Bieber’s publicist, Melissa Victor, and attorney Howard Weitzman were not immediately returned.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.