'Avatar's' Sam Worthington Arrested for Alleged Assault

By Brett Snider, Esq. on February 24, 2014 | Last updated on March 21, 2019

"Avatar" star Sam Worthington was arrested Sunday night for allegedly assaulting a paparazzo in New York City.

In an interesting twist, the photographer, Sheng Li, 37, has also been arrested on charges of reckless endangerment, assault, and harassment, The Associated Press reports.

What caused this action movie actor to be cuffed?

Clash of the Fightin'

Sam Worthington, 37, was arrested for assault after allegedly stepping in to defend his girlfriend Lara Bingle when she was kicked by Li, the AP reports. The "Clash of the Titans" actor was released and is due back in court on Wednesday. Under New York law, he is likely facing a third degree assault charge.

Although third degree assault is a misdemeanor jailable offense, Worthington isn't likely to see the inside of a jail cell if the allegations are true. That's because defense of others (i.e., Ms. Bingle) can be a legal justification for assault -- assuming Worthington didn't start the fight in the first place.

If Li did start a fight by attacking Bingle, not only could Worthington get off the hook for decking him, but Li could find himself in jail for assault.

Who Wants to Punch a Photog?

You don't have to star in "Avatar" to get in a scuffle with the paparazzi. As you may recall, Justin Bieber was sued in June after the Biebs allegedly gave him a Liu Kang-style flying kick to the stomach. And in August, the usually calm Kanye West was also sued for allegedly wrestling with a photog at LAX.

Regardless of the location or type of assault, the in-your-face style of celebrity photographers often leads to physical violence. But simple harassment -- while perhaps a crime in itself -- does not justify using physical force against a paparazzo.

In Worthington's case, the photog is alleged to have gone past the regular paparazzi antics by kicking his girlfriend. If that proves to be true, then Worthington's punch may have been justified as defense of others.

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