Australian actor Sam Worthington asked police if they were familiar with “that movie Avatar?” before they bundled him into a police car in New York.
Worthington, 37, who starred in Avatar, was arrested for allegedly assaulting photographer Sheng Li on Monday outside Cubbyhole Bar in West Village, after the photographer allegedly kicked model Lara Bingle in the shin as he tried to photograph them.
Bingle, Worthington’s girlfriend, alleges that the photographer had trailed her “on a public street for approximately four hours” before the confrontation occurred, according to court papers seen by the New York Daily News.
Footage of the scuffle obtained by Channel Nine shows Bingle, whom Worthington refers to as his “wife”, attempting to grab the photographer’s camera before Worthington intervenes.
“You f—ing kicked my wife,” Worthington is recorded as yelling.
He is alleged to have punched the photographer in the face. Police said that Bingle had a bruise on her leg, according to the Hollywood Reporter.
Later, to other photographers and onlookers, Worthington yelled: “He kicked the girl, man, he kicked the girl.”
Bingle is seen to yell at the photographers, calling them “parasites” and begging them to leave her alone.
As he spoke to officers, Worthington appears to reveal his fame.
“You know that movie called Avatar?” Worthington is captured in the the footage as saying.
NYPD officers charged him with assault, and released him on bail. He is due to face court on February 26.
The photographer was also charged with assault, reckless endangerment and harassment.
Li spent the night in custody before appearing in Manhattan Criminal Court overnight.
According to the criminal complaint, Bingle told police that Li “kept getting in her way as she was walking down the street and was trying to trip her”, the New York Daily News reports.
But Li’s lawyer, Ronald Kuby, claimed that Li was attacked by Bingle and that he did not retaliate.
“He was there taking pictures – that’s his job,” Mr Kuby said, according to the New York Daily News.
“I recognise that’s annoying but that’s the price of celebrity.
“He wasn’t chasing her through moving traffic. He was just stagnant here taking pictures of her and Worthington.”
Li declined to comment after he was released from custody. He is due back in court on April 1.
This is the second time Worthington has been arrested. He was charged with disorderly conduct when he was denied entry to a restaurant in Atlanta in 2012, but charges were later dismissed.
Several reports this year suggested Worthington and Bingle had married secretly in Western Australia, and they have since been seen wearing matching rings on their wedding fingers.
But they have not publicly confirmed any marriage.
Several people who saw the attack on Sunday afternoon described the scene on Twitter.
“Pretty sure I just saw Sam Worthington getting arrested in Greenwich Village. Definitely in a cop car. Ok. #nyc #samworthington @OmiScott,” wrote @MiriamEliseMP.
“Just saw Sam worthington and Sara (sic) bingle get in physical fight with paparazzi outside cubby hole… Cops just got here,” tweeted @[email protected] wrote: “Just saw Sam Worthington get arrested. Hashtag New York moment.”
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