Justin Bieber Reportedly Used 'Racial Epithets' During 2016 Fight Outside Cleveland Hotel
In a new lawsuit, Justin Bieber has been accused of using “racial epithets” during a fight that took place outside a Cleveland hotel in 2016
In a new lawsuit filed against Justin Bieber on Thursday, the 24-year-old has been accused of using “racial epithets” during a fight that took place outside a Cleveland hotel during the 2016 NBA Finals.
The altercation allegedly began after Rodney Tobias Cannon was introduced to Bieber at the Westin Hotel in Cleveland, according to documents obtained by The Blast. While their interaction was initially friendly, Cannon claims things “drastically changed” after he took a photograph of Bieber, who he claims “suddenly became irate” and started “aggressively threatening harm to [Cannon] if the photograph was not deleted.”
“In addition to threatening to harm” Cannon, according to the documents the singer’s “threatening communications made in public in front of a number of people included the use of racial epithets.”
Sources close to the situation told The Blast that they believed Bieber used the “N-word” during the altercation.
However, a source close to Bieber told PEOPLE Bieber did not use any racial epithet. “This guy has been trying unsuccessfully to get money from Justin for years off of this incident,” the source said. “He has failed, largely because he threw the first punch and instigated the physical altercation. He has never before claimed anything about a racial slur.”
A representative for Bieber and Cannon’s lawyer did not immediately respond to PEOPLE’s request for comment.
Cannon also claims that after he tried to walk away from the situation, Bieber grabbed his shirt and “then struck” Cannon “with his fist…more than one time” according to the documents. He then reportedly tried to “subdue” Bieber on the ground, but was then “struck in the back of the head” by a person Cannon believes was working as the singer’s “security detail.”
Cannon claims to have “sustained injuries to his face, head and back” as a result of the altercation and also suffered mental and emotional injuries.
Following the altercation, which took place after game 3 of the 2016 NBA Finals, TMZ posted a short video of the scuffle.
According to sightings on social media, the star was spotted partying afterward at local hotspot Barley House. The restaurant’s owner Bobby George confirms to PEOPLE the star hung out at the venue
During the video, which was filmed for his 2011 documentary Never Say Never, he asks, “Why are black people afraid of chainsaws?” He continues with the punchline: “Run n––, n––, n––, n––, n––.”
Shortly after the footage went public, Bieber released a statement attempting to explain his actions – and apologizing for them.
The statement said, “As a kid, I didn’t understand the power of certain words and how they can hurt. I thought it was okay to repeat hurtful words and jokes, but didn’t realize at the time that it wasn’t funny and that in fact my actions were continuing the ignorance.”
“Now that these mistakes from the past have become public I need to apologize again to all those I have offended. I’m very sorry. I take my friendships with people of all cultures very seriously and I apologize for offending or hurting anyone with my childish and inexcusable mistake,” he continued.