Why Hypothetically Arresting Will Smith After The Slap Was So Complicated

Following the violent altercation between actor Will Smith and comedian Chris Rock at the 2022 Oscars, many viewers at home assumed that Smith would be arrested. Still, nothing could be further from the truth. Instead, he was invited back on stage to receive an award for Best Actor. 

In the days after the incident, however, the public learned that Rock opted not to press charges and have Smith arrested. "The incident involved one individual slapping another. The individual involved has declined to file a police report. If the involved party desires a police report at a later date, LAPD will be available to complete an investigative report," the police department said in a statement to CNN.

Later, Oscars producer Will Packer told ABC's "Good Morning America" that The Academy had every intention of having Smith arrested, but Rock insisted they refrain from doing so. "I made that clear, like, 'Rock, you tell me, whatever you want to do, brother... The LAPD came and needed to talk to Chris. And so they came into my office and they were laying out very clearly what Chris' rights were. They were saying: 'This is battery. We will go get him. We will go get him right now, you can press charges, we can arrest him,'" he recalled. Still, Rock rebuffed the officials' offer, insisting he was "fine." Nevertheless, many viewers believed that Smith would eventually be arrested anyway, but the situation proved far more complicated.

The police officer at the Oscars did not witness Will Smith hit Chris Rock

The devil is in the details. 

As reported by TMZ, there was only one police officer in attendance at the 2022 Oscars, and he did not witness the incident as he was backstage when it all went down. Unfortunately, because the officer did not witness the altercation firsthand, he did not have the authority to arrest Smith for the misdemeanor battery offense. Still, had audience members approached the officer and requested to make a citizen's arrest, Smith could have been apprehended that way. As outlined on the Golden state's official legislative information website, "A private person may arrest another for a public offense committed or attempted in his presence." Alas, not one of the thousands in attendance at the award show did so. "If i was at the oscar's i would performed a citizens arrest on will smith," one user tweeted

It's reported, however, that after Will Smith put his hands on Chris Rock, many viewers at home immediately contacted the Los Angeles Police Department and told officials they had witnessed an assault. Nevertheless, the LAPD's hands were still tied as those particular individuals only witnessed the act of violence on television instead of firsthand.