Singer Chris Brown was charged with simple assault and released on his own recognizance Monday after a hearing that at times left the D.C. Superior Court building in a state of bedlam.
Though police initially filed a felony assault charge against the 24-year-old singer and his bodyguard, prosecutors sought only a misdemeanor charge against the pair.
Mr. Brown, who was sentenced to five years probation in 2009 after a high-profile incident in which he beat his girlfriend, singer Rihanna. It was unclear how the misdemeanor case would affect his probation status. He was ordered to check in with his probation officer in California within 48 hours.
Police arrested Mr. Brown and his bodyguard, 35-year-old Christopher Hollosy, early Sunday after an assault outside the W Hotel, in the 500 block of 15th Street Northwest.Court documents outline two differing versions of the incident, with the 20-year-old victim saying Mr. Brown and then Mr. Hollosy punched him in the face after he tried to get in a picture with Mr. Brown.
But Mr. Brown and Mr. Hollosy told police that the man had tried to get on the singer's tour bus, and that was why the bodyguard punched him, breaking his nose, court documents state.
Mr. Brown denied hitting the man or being part of the confrontation.
"No, I was on the bus when I guess someone tried to get on and my bodyguard handled it," he told investigators.
But a woman who had asked Mr. Brown if she could take a photo with him and her friend told police that Mr. Brown threw the first punch at the victim after he tried to get into the picture with the group.
She recounted Mr. Brown saying, "I'm not down with that gay s---," and "I feel like boxing."
Mr. Brown, who earlier in the evening had appeared for an event in connection with the Howard University homecoming at the Park at Fourteenth, got on his tour bus and the woman called police to the scene, the court records state.
The victim, who was found with blood on his face and shirt, was treated at a hospital.
Both Mr. Brown and Mr. Hollosy both remained at the scene.
Mr. Brown's lawyer, Danny Onorato, told the Associated Press outside court Monday that his client committed no crime.
"We understand that his security acted to protect Mr. Brown and Mr. Brown's property as he was authorized to do under District of Columbia law. We are confident that Mr. Brown will be exonerated of any wrongdoing," he said.
The singer, who spent the night in a D.C. holding facility, arrived in the courtroom a little after 1 p.m. along with an entourage of more than a dozen people that passed through a gauntlet of fans, news cameras and television satellite trucks outside the building.
Some of Mr. Brown's family and friends argued with court security officials as they tried to gain access to a courtroom packed with both fans and others who were there for their own loved ones court hearings.
Security tried to keep courtroom spectators to a minimum, with court administrators announcing that any employees who were in the courtroom but not on official business should leave. A handful of people left the room, and officials established an overflow area for people to listen to the hearing.
The case, part of the court's 1 p.m. session, wasn't called until after 6 p.m. — leaving reporters and spectators sitting idly through a docket of mostly minor weekend arrests.
Mr. Brown, dressed in a white long-sleeve shirt and black pants, offered only simple answers to Judge Karen A. Howze, giving his name and indicating he understood her remarks.
When the proceeding ended, the singer was escorted by court security and his own bodyguards out of the courtroom. He slapped hands with several of the dozens of onlookers who lined the courthouse hallway. Mr. Brown was greeted by the excited screams of fans as he made his way to a waiting SUV.
© Copyright 2016 The Washington Times, LLC. Click here for reprint permission.