The Oscars weren’t boring this year, that’s for sure. Still, the powers that are attempting to quell the controversy that won’t stop swirling after Will Smith smacked Chris Rock for a GI Jane joke about Jada Pinkett (who struggles with alopecia). It truly was the slap heard ’round the world, and the incident prompted approximately 550,000 people (who weren’t already watching) to turn on the broadcast. Likewise, the LAPD descended upon the scene.
Oscars producer Will Packer (who has already called the slap “a very painful moment for me”) sat down with GMA for an interview that will air on Friday. As Packer reveals, cops used the word “battery,” which sounds accurate in a criminal-law sense because the word refers to nonconsensual “harmful or offensive conduct,” with or without intent. Assault, on the other hand, is a word that’s often used interchangeably but actually “causes the victim to apprehend imminent physical harm, while battery refers to the actual act causing the physical harm.” One can have battery without assault (which usually requires general intent to qualify), or together.
Long story short, the cops were ready to proceed with arresting Will if Rock had wanted to press charges for battery. Rock immediately dismissed the possibility, and it sounds like Packer wanted to make sure that Rock had made his final decision. According to Packer (via Variety), here’s how the police involvement went down:
“They were saying, you know, this is battery, was a word they used in that moment. 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 — he was being very dismissive of those options. He was like, ‘No, no, no, I’m fine.’ And even to the point where I said, ‘Rock, let them finish.’ The LAPD officers finished laying out what his options were and they said, ‘Would you like us to take any action?’ And he said no. He said no.”
Will has since publicly apologized to Rock, who broke his silence during a Wednesday night stand-up comedy gig to declare that he’s still “processing” what happened, which is completely understandable. We’ll likely hear more from both parties at some point, but for now, Packer’s full GMA interview will air on Friday morning.