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Singer Chris Brown under investigation in alleged assault

February 8, 2009 | 10:19 pm

December 2008 photo of singers Rihanna and Chris  Brown  performing at Madison Square Garden in New York.

R&B singer Chris Brown, one of the biggest-selling performers in pop music, was booked tonight in Los Angeles on charges stemming from an alleged assault on his girlfriend, pop singer Rihanna, according to police and other sources familiar with the investigation.

An official police statement did not name Rihanna, but said the woman in the incident “suffered visible injuries.”

Details of what took place between the two were sketchy, but authorities and sources said that about 12:30 a.m. Sunday, Brown and a woman got into an argument in a rented Lamborghini on North June Street in Hancock Park. Brown stopped the car, the two got out, and the argument escalated. A witness called 911, but police said Brown was gone by the time officers arrived at the scene. The woman identified Brown as her assailant.

Authorities did not describe her injuries or whether she was treated for them.

The sources said the woman was Rihanna, whose full name is Robyn Rihanna Fenty.

Brown was booked on a charge of making criminal threats, and police said he remained under investigation for felony charges of domestic violence. “The exact charge was criminal threats and it is going to be investigated as a criminal threats investigation,” said Police Sgt. Bridget Pickett, who spoke to reporters at the Wilshire Division police station, where Brown was booked. “There may be domestic violence charges added later, but that will be up to the district attorney’s office.”

Pickett defined a criminal threat as “a threat that is made to a person with the likelihood that it may occur.” She said that Brown arrived at the police station about 6:30 p.m. dressed in a T-shirt and jeans. “He was very professional,” she said. Brown was joined at the station by his lawyer, Mark Geragos, and Geragos’ investigator, Scott Ross.

After posting $50,000 bail, Brown left the station before 9 p.m.

Both Brown and Rihanna had been scheduled to perform at the Grammy Awards, which began at 5 p.m. at Staples Center. Neither appeared, and Grammy officials issued a statement just before the show saying: "We have just been informed Rihanna will not be attending tonight’s 51st Grammy Awards. Rihanna will not be performing. We are sorry to see she is unable to join us this evening.”

A publicist for the Barbados-born star, who sold more digital song downloads than anyone else in 2008 with nearly 10 million tracks, said Sunday night: “Rihanna is well. Thank you for your concern and support.”

Her song “Disturbia,” which she’d been scheduled to perform at the ceremony, was the sixth best-selling digital track of the year. She was replaced by veteran soul singer Al Green, who was accompanied by country singer-guitarist Keith Urban.

Brown and Rihanna had appeared together Saturday night at producer Clive Davis’ pre-Grammy gala in Beverly Hills.

A spokesman for Brown’s record label did not respond to The Times’ request for comment. Brown finished 2008 as the fourth-best-selling artist in the digital realm, posting 6.8 million tracks sold, according to Nielsen SoundScan.

-- Andrew Blankstein, Randy Lewis, Ari Bloomekatz and Mitchell Landsberg

Photo: Singers Rihanna and Chris Brown perform at New York City's Madison Square Garden in December. Credit: Evan Agostini / Associated Press