Bieber charged with assault of limousine driver in Canada
Justin Bieber was charged on Wednesday with assault for allegedly hitting a Toronto limousine driver several times in the back of the head last month, just hours after his attorney entered a separate not guilty plea in Florida to drunken-driving and other charges.
Bieber turned himself in to a Toronto police station, arriving amid a crush of media and screaming fans.
He was charged with one count of assault and is scheduled to appear in court in Toronto on March 10.
Police allege Bieber was one of six people who were picked up by a limousine from a nightclub in the early morning hours of December 30, and there was an altercation while en route to a hotel.
Police said during the altercation one of the passengers hit the limo driver in the back of the head several times.
“The driver stopped the limousine, exited the vehicle and called police,” a statement said. “The man who struck him left the scene before police arrived.”
Howard Weitzman, Bieber’s attorney in California, said his client was innocent and declined to comment on the allegations against Bieber or any potential defence, saying it was now a matter for the court to handle.
Weitzman said he expected the case to be treated as a summary offence, which is the equivalent of a misdemeanour in the United States.
Brian Greenspan, Bieber’s Canadian attorney, did not immediately return a message seeking comment. Toronto police said in late December that they were looking into allegations that a member of Bieber’s entourage assaulted a limo driver who was ferrying the Canadian pop star and several others.
Police said at the time it was unclear whether Bieber was involved. Bieber emerged from a black SUV wearing a winter coat and a backwards ball cap before being led through a throng of police and reporters.
Many waited for his arrival for more than an hour in freezing temperatures. He spent about an hour and a half in the police station before leaving through a back exit.
It was yet another sign of the crazy lifestyle that has taken over Bieber’s image. Earlier on Wednesday, Bieber pleaded not guilty in Florida to charges of driving under the influence after driving nearly twice the speed limit on a Miami Beach street.
He also pleaded not guilty to resisting arrest and driving with an expired licence.
Bieber already has an arraignment set for February 14, but Florida law does not require the 19-year-old pop star to be present. Bieber and R&B singer Khalil Amir Sharieff were arrested last week in Miami Beach during what police described as an illegal street drag race between a Lamborghini and a Ferrari.
Neither has been charged with drag racing, which is a crime in Florida.
Bieber remains under investigation for felony vandalism in Los Angeles County over an egg-tossing episode that damaged his neighbour’s home.
The cases have overshadowed the recent release of his latest album. Its reception has been far from the chart-topping success Bieber had after he debuted in 2009, with multiple platinum albums.
Jon Bollock, a 14-year-old fan waiting for Bieber to arrive outside the Toronto police station, said he wanted to see Bieber but said “it’s pretty embarrassing for Canada”.