A celebrity photographer filed a lawsuit against Ye on Thursday after he was recorded grabbing her phone from her hand as she was filming him earlier this year.
Photographer Nichol Lechmanik is suing the artist previously known as Kanye West for assault, battery, negligence and interfering with her civil rights after he told her to stop filming near Sports Academy in Newbury Park, California. Lechmanik and other paparazzi had previously been shooting Ye’s ex-wife, Kim Kardashian, outside the building where she and Ye were apparently attending a sporting event for one of their children on Jan. 27.
The complaint states that Lechmanik noticed Ye and another photographer having what appeared to be a heated interaction near the facility, so she drove closer, with her business partner beside her in the passenger’s seat.
“Given Defendant Ye’s reputation for violence against photographers, his history of physically harming them, and based on his threatening body language, Plaintiff became fearful for the photographer’s safety,” read a statement by Lechmanik’s attorney, Gloria Allred. “Defendant Ye went through his pockets, and plaintiff thought that he might have a weapon.”
Before taking on Lechmanik’s case, Allred represented Daniel Ramos, another photographer who sued Ye in 2013, accusing the rapper of assaulting him outside a terminal at Los Angeles International Airport. The suit was eventually settled, according to Reuters.
In 2008, the artist was also arrested in the U.K. following an alleged assault outside a nightclub, but he was later released without charge, according to Billboard.
At a press conference on Thursday, Allred played video footage shot by Lechmanik that shows Ye walking toward the photographer’s car while she films him with her window down. He tells her to stop recording and can be seen reaching toward the phone before the footage ends.
“If I want to go see my son at a game, y’all ain’t going to run up on me like that. If I say stop … Stop with your cameras. Stop with your cameras,” Ye tells Lechmanik in the video. He is not yelling but appears upset.
“Defendant Ye was enraged,” Allred’s statement reads. “He reached into Plaintiff’s car and ripped her phone out of her hands. As he did so, Plaintiff was fearful Defendant Ye had a weapon or would strike her. Defendant Ye then threw her phone onto the street towards oncoming traffic.”
Lechmanik’s footage ends before Ye can be seen doing anything to the phone. However, footage from Lechmanik’s business partner in the passenger seat shows Ye grabbing and throwing the phone into the street before walking away to tell another cameraman outside the vehicle to stop filming.
The footage does not show any physical contact between Ye and the photographers, aside from his grabbing the phone from Lechmanik, who says she sustained “mental, physical, and emotional pain and suffering.”
Representatives for Ye did not immediately respond to a request for comment; the law firm that previously handled most of his legal affairs dropped him as a client following the antisemitic comments he made last year.
“We are bringing this case because Nichol wants Ye to know that what he is doing to photographers is wrong and in Nichol’s case, it was harmful to her physically, emotionally, and financially,” Allred said in her statement.
In a separate statement, Lechmanik said she was traumatized by the incident.
“Although I am not a world-famous artist as is Ye, I have just as much right to work as he does. He had no right to assault me, batter me, or cause me to be afraid to pursue my profession,” she wrote.
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