LOS ANGELES: A photographer who claims Kanye West threw her cell phone to the ground in a confrontation is suing the troubled rapper for assault, she said Thursday.
Nichol Lechmanik said the artist, who is now formally known as Ye, caused her “great mental and emotional pain” in the January confrontation.
A press conference in Los Angeles heard how the paparazzo was outside a sports center in Ventura County, north of the city, where Ye and Kim Kardashian's son was playing.
The lawsuit says Lechmanik had taken photographs of Kardashian and then saw Ye standing outside arguing with someone, so began filming him from her car.
The clip, which was played for reporters, shows Ye approaching the vehicle and addressing the photographer.
“If I wanna go see my son at a game, You all ain’t gonna run up on me like that. If I say stop... stop with your cameras,“ the rapper says.
“I know, but Kanye you are a celebrity,“ Lechmanik replies, continuing to film.
The footage shows Ye reaching into her car, grabbing the phone and throwing it to the ground, before he walks away.
“He caused me so much fear that I have not been the same since,“ Lechmanik told reporters Thursday.
“His actions have interfered with my ability to work. Although I am not a world famous artist (like) Ye, I have just as much right to work as he does. He has no right to assault me, batter me or cause me to be afraid to pursue my profession.”
The suit, filed in Ventura County, seeks “general, special and punitive damages,“ attorney Gloria Allred said. No figure was given on the amount being sought.
Confrontations between paparazzi and celebrities in and around Los Angeles are not uncommon, with movie stars and musicians complaining that they are abused and harassed by people who follow them incessantly.
Such freelance photographers say images of famous people are often tightly controlled, and that a picture of an unguarded moment is the only way to make a living in a highly competitive marketplace.
Ye and Kardashian, who have four children together, divorced last year in an acrimonious split, after around a decade together.
The entrepreneur and musician has spoken openly about his struggles with mental health, but has sparked alarm with a number of high-profile outbursts.
In October he parted ways with Adidas, for which he had designed a line of popular shoes, after he made a series of anti-Semitic remarks. - AFP