Singer Chris Brown finished his set Thursday night in West Palm Beach, but police were waiting just off stage with a warrant for his arrest from the Hillsborough County Sheriff’s Office.
Brown spent less than an hour inside the Palm Beach County Jail before posting $2,000 bail around midnight, jail records show. The 29-year-old star now faces a third-degree felony battery charge for allegedly punching a Tampa photographer in the face during an "afterparty" at Aja Channelside for his concert at Amalie Arena on April 17, 2017.
Despite his dramatic arrest at the Coral Sky Amphitheatre the night before, a spokesperson for the MidFlorida Credit Union Amphitheatre assured worried fans that Brown would still perform Friday evening with his Heartbreak On A Full Moon Tour as planned. Brown backed up those claims in a post on Instagram Friday morning saying, "What’s NEW????? Show tomorrow!!!!"
Brown’s team spoke with officials from the Palm Beach County Sheriff’s Office Thursday morning, and weren’t surprised by the singer’s arrest immediately after the show, department spokesman Eric Davis said.
Neither Brown nor a spokesperson from his management team responded to a reporter’s requests on Friday to discuss the altercation at the club’s "Chris Brown and Friends Official Afterparty."
Multiple guests posted photos and videos to social media sites of Brown jumping over a couch to get to Bennie Louis Vines Jr., the 28-year-old photographer hired by Aja staff.
According to Tampa police, Vines said Brown’s security told him to stop taking photos of the star when he arrived about 1 a.m., so he began snapping photos of the crowd. Brown then took a seat near the photographer and motioned for him to leave, then lunged towards the photographer and punched him twice in the face, causing a small cut on his lip, Vines said.
By the time Tampa police arrived at the club, Brown and his entourage were gone. They were at the Drynk on South Howard Avenue, joining another after party hosted by the rapper Fabolous. Drynk manager Enrique DeJesus said Brown stayed at the club until it closed at 3 a.m. and was "just having a good time."
Managers at Aja Channelside told the Tampa Bay Times they paid Brown $30,000 in advance to spend a minimum of one hour at the event, but he spent less than 10 minutes with guests who paid $32 to $64 to attend. His contract with Aja neither addressed nor prohibited photography.
Aja staff declined to answer questions on Friday
Following an investigation, Tampa police sent the case to the State Attorney’s Office, and a warrant was issued on Aug. 11, 2017, police said.
Monday wasn’t the first time Brown was accused of attacking a photographer in Tampa.
In 2008, Tampa Bay Times photographer Luis Santana filed a lawsuit against Brown alleging his bodyguards beat him and stole his camera. Santana settled out of court for an undisclosed sum.
The following year, Brown pleaded guilty to felony assault charges filed by then-girlfriend Rihanna. He’s been in and out of jail and rehab ever since, battling the courts for allegedly punching a man in 2013 and beating his former manager in June 2016. Last month, a restraining order was issued against Brown — at least the third order he’s faced — after a woman accused him of stalking and striking her.
Information from the Associated Press was used in this report. Contact Anastasia Dawson at [email protected] or (813) 226-3377. Follow @adawsonwrites.