Will Smith’s smack was stunning, but ‘strong arm’ attacks are common

LAPD fields more than a thousand ‘bodily force’ simple assaults each month

Handcuffs illustration


Television viewers around the world were stunned Sunday night when Will Smith stormed the stage at the Oscars and slapped Chris Rock after the award presenter and comedian made a joke about the actor’s wife, Jada Pinkett Smith. 


But the general type of attack perpetrated by Smith is all too common in Los Angeles: According to publicly available Los Angeles Police Department data, there are generally about 1,000-1,500 cases each month of simple assault or battery in which the “weapon” is listed as “strong arm (hands, fist, feet or bodily force).”


There were reports of 1,256 such incidents in the city in February. The highest monthly figure in the past decade was the 1,760 reports in May 2012. The lowest was the 984 in February 2021.


Line chart of simple assault with bodily force reports


Rock has, to date, declined to press charges against Smith. In a statement after the Oscars, the Los Angeles Police Department said, “LAPD investigative entities are aware of an incident between two individuals during the Academy Awards program. The incident involved one individual slapping another. 


“If the involved party desires a police report at a later date, LAPD will be available to complete an investigative report.” 


Under the California Penal Code, simple assault is a misdemeanor that can result in a sentence of up to six months of prison time. Aggravated assault, which involves an intent to commit serious bodily injury, can be charged as a misdemeanor or felony and is punishable by up to four years in prison.


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Cases declining

The 14,538 cases of simple assault last year with some type of strong-arm tactics marked the lowest annual count since the LAPD made its data available in 2010. Other weapons utilized include sticks (83 reports), thrown objects (69) and verbal threats (47). 


Last year, the Los Angeles community with the highest number of simple assault incidents with a body part was Downtown (1,472 reports), followed by Hollywood (739), Westlake (629), Koreatown (604) and Boyle Heights (457). 


The Oscars incident, which occurred shortly before Smith won the Best Actor award and gave a tearful acceptance speech, occurred at the Dolby Theatre in Hollywood. Since 2021, there have been 64 incidents of crime in theaters around the city of Los Angeles. Ten were designated as simple assault with hands, fist, feet or bodily force as the weapon. 


On Feb. 24, a stranger knocked a 33-year-old woman to the ground and pulled her hair in a movie theater in Koreatown. On Feb. 9, an unknown individual shoved a 58-year-old woman in a cinema in Hollywood.


None of the reported incidents took place in the Dolby Theatre.


How we did it: We examined Los Angeles Police Department data on incidents of simple assault from Jan. 1, 2010-March 28, 2022. For neighborhood boundaries, we rely on the borders defined by the Los Angeles Times. Learn more about our data here


LAPD data only reflect crimes that are reported to the department, not how many crimes actually occurred. In making our calculations, we rely on the data the LAPD makes publicly available. On occasion, the LAPD may update past crime reports with new information, or recategorize past reports. Those revised reports do not always automatically become part of the public database.


Want to know how your neighborhood fares? Or simply just interested in our data? Email us at askus@xtown.la.