LOS ANGELES — Prosecutors won’t file criminal charges against Scottie Pippen for fighting with an autograph seeker who authorities say was drunk and exaggerated his injuries including faking seizures after claiming the former Chicago Bulls star punched him in the face.
The Los Angeles County district attorney’s office said Tuesday there was insufficient evidence to bring assault charges against Pippen for the altercation with Camran Shafighi at Nobu, a sushi restaurant and celebrity hangout on the beach in Malibu.
Pippen was dining with his family June 24 when he was approached by Shafighi inside the restaurant. Pippen obliged to have a photo taken but not with Shafighi, and then Shafighi followed the retired NBA forward outside into the parking lot. He again asked for a photo and an autograph from Pippen, who said no.
Pippen told investigators Shafighi became irate, “grabbing at him, cursing him and then spit in his face,” according to a report by the district attorney’s office.
Shafighi, 49, said Pippen punched him in the mouth and kicked him several times. The last memory Shafighi had before losing consciousness was seeing Pippen’s foot coming toward his face, the report said.
Pippen admitted spitting at Shafighi and pushing him away, but prosecutors said that based on witness accounts, it was unclear whether Pippen was the aggressor or acted in self-defense.
Shafighi, who has filed a $4 million lawsuit against Pippen, was taken to a hospital with a possible concussion. All tests showed there wasn’t any internal trauma, but Shafighi returned to the hospital later and told doctors he had been diagnosed with fractured ribs and ankle, the report said. The only visible physical injuries were a small bruise on Shafighi’s chin and a cut to his lip.
Shafighi, whose blood sample turned up positive for opiates and a 0.18 percent blood-alcohol level — twice the legal limit for driving — also feigned having seizures, according to the report. The seizures ended when the doctor ordered him to stop them.
The physician who examined Shafighi told investigators he believed Shafighi was “making up stuff,” the report said.
Pippen’s attorney, Mark Geragos, indicated his client will sue.
“This shakedown artist was drunk, screaming racial slurs, and assaulted my client and his family,” Geragos said. “Scottie and his family are grateful to the sheriff for their investigation and DA for their decision to reject these unfounded charges. Scottie and his family plan on holding this man accountable for his outrageous actions.”
Shafighi’s lawyer Lee Boyd, said she’s disappointed with the district attorney’s decision and denied her client feigned injuries.
“The ambulance and hospital records confirm the gravity of the victim’s harm, which included seizure-like activity, secondary trauma, unresponsiveness and altered levels of consciousness,” Boyd said.
She added that Shafighi sought to share the records with investigators but prosecutors didn’t contact him or his lawyers until today.
Boyd said prosecutors may have opted not to file charges because of Pippen’s status.
“We have no doubt that had this vicious attack involved an everyday citizen, instead of a famous and connected individual like Mr. Pippen, that criminal charges would have been filed in this case,” she said.
Pippen, 47, won six NBA titles with Michael Jordan and the Bulls. In 1996, he was named one of the NBA’s 50 greatest players. He was inducted into the Basketball Hall of Fame in 2010.
Pippen now serves as special adviser to the Bulls’ president and chief operating officer.