Kanye West moments before he assaulted photographer on July 19.

Kanye West moments before he assaulted photographer on July 19.

Kanye West is facing criminal charges for his July 19 attack on a photographer at Los Angeles International Airport, a surprise move by LA County prosecutors that may signal a crackdown on misbehaving celebrities, who have run rampant in recent months without fear of prosecution.

West went off on the photographer after he violated the rapper’s edict not to speak to him in public.

The whole incident, of course, was videotaped. Even the assaulted paparazzo kept his camera rolling while West scuffled with him. See the footage here.

Confrontations between paparazzi and celebrities have become a common occurrence in and around Hollywood. Photographers are often aggressive and sometimes ask abusive or embarrassing questions.

In this case, the photographer was being polite and clearly told West he did not want to fight. The photographer’s footage ends in a blur as West lunges, and the photographer loses control of his equipment, according to the 50-second clip, posted by TMZ.

Typically, these confrontations rarely, if ever, result in criminal charges. Celebrities usually settle them by paying civil remedies that can range as high as six-figures.

Why West was charged is a mystery at the moment. He’s facing charges of criminal battery and attempted grand theft for allegedly trying to relieve the photographer of his camera.

Following the incident, photographer hired Hollywood celebrity lawyer Gloria Allred and has filed a civil suit, suggesting that West has refused to pay him off.

West could face up to a year in jail if convicted on both counts. He’ll be arraigned Oct. 10th, according to gossip site TMZ.

Justin Bieber has also been involved in a number of alleged assaults, including an incident where he spit on a neighbor and threatened to kill him for complaining about Bieber’s driving through their suburban neighborhood. So far, no charges have been filed in that case.