LAPD were ‘prepared’ to arrest Will Smith following Chris Rock assault

It comes following reports that Smith met with leaders of the Academy to discuss his outburst, and apologised to chief executive Dawn Hudson and president David Rubin.

Published

Oscars show-runner Will Packer said the Los Angeles Police Department (LAPD) were “prepared” to arrest Will Smith following his assault of Chris Rock at the awards show.

Packer said Rock had been “very dismissive” of the options given to him by the LAPD when officers went to his office to speak with the comedian, who was told the incident was classed as “battery.”

It comes following reports from Hollywood trade outlet Variety that Smith met with leaders of the Academy on Tuesday to discuss his outburst, and apologised to chief executive Dawn Hudson and president David Rubin.

Will Smith (R) hits Chris Rock as Rock spoke on stage during the 94th Academy Awards in Hollywood, Los Angeles, California, U.S., March 27, 2022.
Will Smith (R) hits Chris Rock as Rock spoke on stage during the 94th Academy Awards in Hollywood, Los Angeles, California, U.S., March 27, 2022.

The 53-year-old won best actor for King Richard, but stormed on stage prior to his win after reacting to a joke made by Rock which referred to his wife Jada Pinkett Smith’s shaved head.

The Academy said Smith had been asked to leave the ceremony following the incident but had refused.

A formal review has been launched to discuss what disciplinary measures will be taken, and Smith will reportedly be given the chance to provide a written defence before the Academy board meets again on April 18.

The LAPD said that no charges had been filed against him, but according to Packer they had told Rock that he had the power to do so.

“They were saying this is battery, that was the word they used at that moment, they said ‘we will go get him, we are prepared to go get him right now’,” Packer said in a clip from an interview with ABC.

“‘You can press charges, we can arrest him’, they were laying out the options.”

Will Smith attending the Vanity Fair Oscar Party held at the Wallis Annenberg Center for the Performing Arts in Beverly Hills, Los Angeles, California, USA. Picture date: Sunday March 27, 2022.
Will Smith attending the Vanity Fair Oscar Party held at the Wallis Annenberg Center for the Performing Arts in Beverly Hills, Los Angeles, California, USA. Picture date: Sunday March 27, 2022.

He added: “As they were talking Chris was being very dismissive of those options, he was like ‘no I’m fine’… and even to the point I said ‘Rock, let them finish’.

“The other LAPD officers finished laying out what his options were and they said ‘would you like us to take any action’ and he said ‘no’.”

The interview with Packer is due to air on Good Morning America on Friday.

Variety reported that on Tuesday during his meeting with Academy bosses Smith explained his actions and showed awareness that there would be consequences.

The Academy’s board of governors met on Wednesday, where it was decided that disciplinary action for Smith could include suspension, expulsion or other sanctions.

“While we would like to clarify that Mr Smith was asked to leave the ceremony and refused, we also recognise we could have handled the situation differently,” it said in a statement, adding that the actor’s actions were “a deeply shocking, traumatic event to witness in-person and on television”.

Smith returned to his seat in the Dolby Theatre after slapping Rock, shouting twice to the stage: “Keep my wife’s name out of your f****** mouth.”

Rock had joked about Pinkett Smith’s buzzcut, saying on stage: “Jada, can’t wait for GI Jane 2.”

The Magic Mike XXL star and Red Table Talk host has previously spoken about her struggles with alopecia and how it had prompted her to shave her head.

A shocked Rock continued to present the best documentary feature gong, which was won by Summer Of Soul.

Smith later returned to the stage accept the Oscar and gave an emotional speech about the importance of protecting family.

Will Smith (R) hits Chris Rock as Rock spoke on stage during the 94th Academy Awards in Hollywood, Los Angeles, California, U.S., March 27, 2022. REUTERS/Brian Snyder
Will Smith (R) hits Chris Rock as Rock spoke on stage during the 94th Academy Awards in Hollywood, Los Angeles, California, U.S., March 27, 2022. REUTERS/Brian Snyder

Rock, 57, addressed the incident publicly for the first time at a stand-up show in Boston on Wednesday night.

According to audio from the gig, shared by Variety, Rock told audiences: “How was your weekend? I don’t have a bunch of shit about what happened, so if you came to hear that, I have a whole show I wrote before this weekend.

“I’m still kind of processing what happened. So, at some point I’ll talk about that shit. And it will be serious and funny.”

He was reportedly given a standing ovation by his audience before his set.

Smith issued a formal apology to Rock on Instagram, admitting he had reacted “emotionally” to the joke, but said “violence in all its forms is poisonous and destructive”.

Pinkett Smith also called for a “season of healing” following the incident.

But the actor’s behaviour was strongly condemned by many of his Hollywood contemporaries, including Oscars co-host Wanda Sykes and comedian Jim Carrey.

Harry Potter star Daniel Radcliffe told Good Morning Britain he was “dramatically bored” of the discussion around the incident.