Kanye West Claims Self-Defense in LAX Assault Lawsuit

By Aditi Mukherji, JD on September 24, 2013 | Last updated on March 21, 2019

Kanye West is claiming he acted in self defense when he allegedly assaulted a paparazzo at Los Angeles International Airport.

Daniel Ramos, the paparazzo who is alleging assault, battery, and interference with his civil rights, filed a lawsuit against the rapper over the incident and is being represented by famed civil rights attorney Gloria Allred.

So what does Kanye need to prove under a self defense theory?

Self-Defense in California

In California, like most other states, you may claim self-defense if you:

  1. reasonably believed that you were in imminent danger of being killed, seriously injured, or unlawfully touched,
  2. believed that immediate force was necessary to prevent that danger, and
  3. used no more force than necessary to defend against that danger.

If these requirements are met, a claim of self-defense can serve as a complete defense.

Reasonable Belief

The facts of the case must establish that the danger or threat was imminent, that you reasonably believed you would be harmed, and that you reasonably responded to that danger.

As you can see, much of the analysis turns on reasonableness -- something West is notorious for not being.

Using an objective standard, the fact finder will place itself in West's shoes to determine how a reasonable person would have acted in his situation.

Did the rapper have an honest and reasonable belief that he faced imminent harm? Is it reasonable to throw punches and wrestle away cameras from photogs when they verbally engage you?

Justin Bieber may think so. But alas, even the objective reasonable person with Bieber fever would probably beg to differ.

As a society, we like to take the "sticks and stones may break my bones" mantra to heart and discourage physical responses to verbal slights.

Even here, the altercation, which was captured on video and posted on TMZ, showed "Yeezus" accusing Ramos of trying to provoke him before he lunged at the paparazzo.

And yet, celebrities have money mysterious ways of getting cases to disappear.

With West being represented by Lindsay Lohan's lawyer, Shawn Holley, anything's possible -- even a self-defense claim that Kanye West "feared his safety was in immediate danger" when a paparazzo was asking him questions and saying mean things to him.

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