Oscars producer Will Packer said Los Angeles police were prepared to arrest actor Will Smith on Sunday after he assaulted comedian Chris Rock onstage at the Oscars.
In an interview with “Good Morning America” that will air Friday morning, Packer spoke out about what happened at the Academy Awards after the shocking incident.
“They were saying, you know, this is battery was the word they use in that moment,” Packer said, according to excerpts released by ABC.
“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. They were laying out the options, and as they were talking, Chris was being very dismissive of those options. He was like, ‘No, I’m fine.’ He was like, ‘No, no, no.’”
Smith had walked onto the Oscars stage and slapped Rock across the face Sunday night after the comedian cracked a “G.I. Jane” joke about Smith’s wife, Jada Pinkett Smith, who shaved her head after struggling with hair loss. After he returned to his seat, Smith shouted twice at Rock to “keep my wife’s name out your fucking mouth.”
After the awards show, the Los Angeles Police Department issued a statement saying it was aware of the incident but that Rock had declined to file a police report.
The film academy condemned the violence and said Wednesday that it had initiated disciplinary proceedings against Smith for violating its standards of conduct. It claimed Smith was asked to leave but refused. (Many people had questioned why Smith, who was nominated for the lead actor award, was allowed to remain in the audience after the onstage assault.)
However, reports Thursday accused the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences of lying about asking Smith to leave the theater. According to reports from TMZ and Variety, citing unnamed sources, there was division among academy officials on whether to remove Smith and they never came to an agreement.
Smith later won the lead actor award and gave an emotional acceptance speech in which he apologized to the academy and his fellow nominees and tried to justify his actions. He apologized to Rock in an Instagram post the following day.
Packer, who led the Oscars’ first all-Black production team, said he did not speak with Smith directly at the Oscars.