Chris Brown was allegedly involved in a brawl at a Tampa, Florida, nightclub early Monday morning (April 17), with Tampa police reporting that Brown “sucker punched” a photographer after a disagreement over some pictures.
According to one of the club’s partner’s, Brown showed up for a paid appearance at the 11,000-square-foot Aja Channelside club, and around 1 a.m., the club’s in-house photographer attempted to take pics of the singer and his entourage when Brown’s team told him to stop.
The partner — who requested that Billboard not use his name — said the unnamed photographer alleged that when he was taking crowd shots from behind Brown as the singer manned the DJ booth, the singer noticed and jumped over a couch to punch the photog in the face. In a video posted on the site, a person identified as Brown appears to throw a punch at an unseen person in a dark corner of the club.
An attorney for Brown could not be reached for comment at press time and the partner said that the police were called to respond to the incident, but Brown had left by the time they arrived. TMZ posted two pictures of lip injuries the alleged victim — who said he’s pressing charges against Brown — claimed he sustained in the incident.
The partner told Billboard that he said he witnessed the entire episode. “I was onstage with him [Brown] and our photographer who was in the DJ booth behind the stage, and he was doing his job taking pictures when [Brown’s] security tried to grab him and then Chris punched him a couple times,” said the club partner, who added that Brown was paid $30,000 in advance for the contractually mandated, one-hour minimum appearance, but spent about five minutes in the building before the scuffle.
“He [the photographer]had a cut on his lip afterwards and we called the police right after and they [Brown’s entourage] left the club right after… within two minutes,” he said, noting that other celebs, including Drake and Kim Kardashian, have made similar appearances at the nightclub since it opened in 2009 without incident. From the club partner’s vantage point, the photographer didn’t even have an angle to take pictures of Brown and there was nothing in the contract that said the venue could not snap photos of the singer.
“Obviously we’re going to try to get our money back, but there was nowhere in the contract that said we couldn’t take pictures, that would be stupid for us,” he said. “It makes no sense to book an artist for that much money and not take pictures.” The partner said the photographer — whose name he did not reveal — was treated on site and that the club pressed assault charges on the spot when police arrived. Earlier this month, it was reported that Brown and Lil Wayne are both tied to a federal drug investigation that reportedly involves thousands of dollars worth of narcotics.
The club also posted a note on its Facebook page about the matter, apologizing to patrons and noting that assault charges have been filed.
The Tampa Police Department provided an incident report on the battery investigation to Billboard that read as following: “During an after party event, Mr. Brown and his crew came into the club for a ‘showing’ for which he was paid. Mr. [Benny] Vines is a photographer for Club Aja. As he was taking photos, Vines reported Mr. Brown ‘sucker punched’ him for allegedly taking photos. By the time officers were contacted and arrived, Mr. Brown left the scene. Mr. Vines wishes to prosecute for a minor laceration to his lip. Medical attention was refused. Investigation continues.”
The purported punch occurs around the 0:20 mark; Brown is alleged to be the one in red:
Brown is currently on tour and has two more stops in Florida lined up this week: a Monday night Miami nightclub appearance and a concert in Jacksonville.