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Kanye West charged in LAX paparazzi scuffle [UPDATED]

March 18, 2009 | 10:40 am

Updated, 11:25 a.m.: The Los Angeles city attorney’s office has filed criminal charges against Kanye West  and  Don Crawley. West, 31, has been charged with one count of vandalism, one count of grand theft and one count of battery. Crawley, 33, has been charged with two counts of vandalism, two counts of grand theft and two counts of battery. If convicted on all counts, West could face up to two years and six months in jail and Crawley could face up to five years in jail.

The pair are scheduled to be arraigned April 14 at the Los Angeles Airport courthouse.

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The Los Angeles city attorney is expected today to file three misdemeanor charges against rapper and producer Kanye West in connection with a scuffle with paparazzi at Los Angeles International Airport.

The decision by city prosecutors to pursue several charges -- expected to be misdemeanor vandalism, battery and grand theft -- comes six months after the Los Angeles County district attorney's office declined to pursue felony charges.

Attorney Blair Berk, who is representing West, had no immediate comment on the city's decision to file criminal charges against her client and his road manager, Don Crawley. A spokesman for City Atty. Rocky Delgadillo had no immediate comment.

West and his road manager were arrested at LAX the morning of Sept. 11, 2008, on suspicion of felony vandalism after they confronted two paparazzi outside the passenger screening area in Terminal 4 and smashed the men's cameras, authorities said.

The confrontation escalated when a TMZ videographer and a still photographer from a paparazzi agency approached West and Crawley outside the terminal as they prepared to catch a commercial flight to Honolulu, officials said.

In video captured by a TMZ employee, West and Crawley are shown yelling at the paparazzi and struggling with the still photographer for his camera and its flash before slamming the equipment to the ground. As the TMZ videographer continued to shoot, Crawley appeared to grab at the video camera.

The confrontation was one in a string of incidents involving stars and aggressive photographers -- a situation that last year led both the Los Angeles County Sheriff's Department and Los Angeles Police Department to announce crackdowns on bad paparazzi behavior.

LAX, in particular, has grown in popularity as a hot spot for paparazzi who roam meet-and-greet areas of the terminals looking for easy targets.  But trouble has ensued with some of the bigger names.

Over the summer, Britney Spears was surrounded by 60 photographers who were pushing, shoving and knocking each other down to get a clear shot of the pop star after she arrived from Atlanta.

In the same week that West got into his scrape, a large contingent of paparazzi mobbed Jaime Lynn Spears, who had just given birth to a baby. The photographers were then left scrambling when a woman who looked like Spears, holding what they thought was a baby, took some of them in another direction while Spears made a clean getaway.

-- Andrew Blankstein

Video: TMZ