The Los Angeles Police Department is not criminally investigating Will Smith for slapping Chris Rock last night at the Academy Awards. Though the incident occurred in perhaps the most provable, heavily witnessed fashion in the history of television, Rock will not press charges per an LAPD statement; so the department considers the matter closed.
“If the party desires a police report at a later date, LAPD will be available to complete an investigative report,” the department’s statement read, the Los Angeles Times reported.
During the broadcast, Rock, a comedian, made a joke about Will Smith’s wife, Jada Pinkett-Smith, who was sitting in the front row with her husband. Rock made a joke about Pinkett-Smith’s hair loss, which elicited an eye roll from the crowd.
“I can’t wait to see you in G.I. Jane 2,” Rock said, in a joke that referenced the 1997 film with Demi Moore playing a bald female soldier.
Will Smith then approached the stage, slapping Chris Rock in front of the entirety of Hollywood on the industry’s biggest night of the year. It was a moment so surreal and unexpected that many wondered if the incident was real or staged for publicity.
“Uh oh,” was all Rock could say as Smith approached him during the live telecast.
Upon returning to his seat, Smith looked visibly upset, but the crowd still didn’t know whether the stunt had been staged or was real. Rock seemed to keep his composure, which made the event feel staged. But when Smith returned to his seat, he began yelling at the top of his lungs for the entire auditorium to hear.
Will Smith actually won an Oscar despite slapping Chris Rock on live television
“Keep my wife’s name out your f— mouth!” Smith shouted twice to a stunned Rock, still on stage.
“I will,” Rock answered, bewildered by the whole experience, before presenting the Best Documentary Feature to Ahmir “Questlove” Thompson’s Summer of Soul.
Immediately following the incident, Denzel Washington, Bradley Cooper, Tyler Perry, and others approached Smith with support. Smith also had an exchange with his public relations person. Some people also approached Pinkett-Smith as well as the entire room tried to make sense of what they had just seen.
Later in the evening, Will Smith accepted the Oscar for Best Actor for his leading role in King Richard, a film about the Williams sisters from the sport of tennis — and their supportive father, Richard, who trained them as girls.
“Richard Williams was a fierce defender of his family,” the actor said, starting his speech. He would apologize to many people during the speech, but not to Rock specifically. It was Smith’s first Oscar despite a multi-generation career and a litany of box office successes; now it will forever be remembered for a slap heard around the world.
“I’m being called on in my life to love people and to protect people and to be a river to my people,” Smith added. “I know to do what we do you’ve got to be able to take abuse. You’ve got to be able to have people talk crazy about you. In this business, you’ve got to be able to have people disrespecting you. And you’ve got to smile and pretend like that’s OK.”
The Academy Awards released a statement after the incident saying, “The Academy does not condone violence in any form.”