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Authorities were prepared to arrest Will Smith following slap, Oscars producer says

Associated Press/Chris Pizzello

A producer for the Academy Awards said in an interview that the Los Angeles Police Department (LAPD) was “prepared” to arrest Will Smith after he hit presenter and comedian Chris Rock.

Speaking to “Good Morning America” in an interview that will air in full on Friday, Oscars producer Will Packer said that authorities referred to Smith’s actions that night as “battery.”

“They said we will go get him; we are prepared. We’re prepared to get him right now. You can press charges. We can arrest him,” Packer said. “They were laying out the options, and as they were talking, Chris was being very dismissive of those options. He was like, ‘No, I’m fine.’ He was like, ‘No, no, no.'”

On Sunday, Smith walked onto the Oscars stage at the Dolby Theatre and hit Rock after the comedian made a joke about Smith’s wife, Jada Pinkett Smith, and her shaved head. Pinkett Smith has previously discussed the challenges she has faced in dealing with alopecia areata, a condition that causes hair loss.

Shortly after the incident, the LAPD said that Rock had declined to press charges against Smith. Rock addressed the incident for the first time on Wednesday during a comedy show in Boston. The comedian told the audience that he was “still kind of processing what happened.”

Conflicting reports have since recently arisen over whether Smith was asked to leave the ceremony after slapping Rock.

Deadline reported Thursday that Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences President David Rubin and CEO Dawn Hudson communicated with Smith’s rep and suggested that the actor leave. However, a source familiar with the matter told the outlet that Smith insisted on remaining at the theater, saying he wished to stay and apologize. Another source told the outlet that the Academy’s request that Smith exit was a “firm ask” rather than a suggestion, however, and a third said that Packer told Smith to stay.

The Academy has said that Smith was asked to leave, but it is unclear if it was a suggestion or a demand that he refused.

The Academy, which swiftly condemned the incident as a violation of its code of conduct, is currently in the midst of disciplinary proceedings against Smith. A board meeting is set to take place on April 18, during which the Academy “may take any disciplinary action, which may include suspension, expulsion, or other sanctions permitted by the Bylaws and Standards of Conduct.”

Tags Academy Awards Chris Rock Chris Rock Jada Pinkett Smith LAPD Los Angeles Police Department Oscars Will Packer Will Smith Will Smith

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