A former Los Angeles County district attorney said Monday that Will Smith could and “should” still be prosecuted for beating Chris Rock at the Oscars — though the comedian declined to press charges.
“The [Los Angeles] The prosecutor could press charges based on the evidence without necessarily relying on the victim,” Steve Cooley, the Los Angeles County District Attorney from 2000 to 2012, told The Post.
“The victim has no control over whether or not a prosecutor should file charges,” Cooley continued.
“In fact, charges can and should be filed because the crime was directed against the state of California. It’s not Chris Rock versus Will Smith in a criminal case. The LAPD and the City Attorney should not close the door on an obvious crime that is easily provable,” Cooley said.
Cooley said the LAPD and Los Angeles City prosecutors should pursue the case. Smith could be charged with simple assault, the former district attorney said.
Smith stormed onto the stage during Sunday night’s awards ceremony and punched Rock hard in the face after the comic made a joke about Jada Pinkett Smith’s balding caused by alopecia.
Smith then walked back to his seat and angrily yelled, “Keep my wife’s name out of your damn mouth,” as the stunned crowd at the Dolby Theater fell uncomfortably still.
The shocking incident was seen by millions on live television and many more online.
A short time later, an emotional Smith received the best actor award for his role in King Richard and apologized to the Academy without mentioning Rock.
He issued a mea culpa statement to the comedian late Monday night.
“I want to publicly apologize to you Chris,” the rapper-turned-movie-star wrote in a statement posted to Instagram.
“I was out of line and I was wrong. I’m embarrassed and my actions were no indication of the man I want to be,” he said.
The Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences did not intervene in the attack or sanction Smith during the ceremony, but it did denounce his actions in a statement and said a “formal review” of the incident was underway on Monday.
Whoopi Goldberg, a governor on the board of AMPAS, said Monday Smith will not lose his trophy but is exempt from punishment.
“We’re not Gonna Take It. Well, there will be consequences, I’m sure. But I don’t think they will be,” she said on The View.
“Especially because Chris said, ‘Listen, I’m not making any charges.'”
Sunday’s incident wasn’t the first time Smith touched someone at a Hollywood gala.
On the red carpet at the 2012 Men in Black 3 premiere, he slapped a prankster who tried to kiss him.
https://nypost.com/2022/03/28/la-prosecutors-could-and-should-charge-will-smith-former-da-steve-cooley/ LA prosecutors could and “should” indict Will Smith: former prosecutor Steve Cooley