Jacqueline Devine, Las Cruces Sun-News
Published 5:53 p.m. MT Nov. 9, 2018
LAS CRUCES – Actor and comedian George Lopez has been charged with battery for allegedly roughing up a man at Hooters last month.
Lopez will be receiving a criminal summons to Las Cruces Municipal Court for the misdemeanor count. He’ll either have to appear in person or hire an attorney to appear for him for his court hearing.
The incident happened Sunday, Oct. 14, at Hooters, 3530 Foothills Road.
Video of the incident, recorded by the alleged victim with his cell phone, was obtained by the celebrity news site TMZ and shows the encounter between the two men.
The beginning of the video shows the alleged victim waiting for Lopez as he walks by.
“Here comes my boy George … Jorge Lopez,” the man says while filming.
Lopez is then seen trying to snatch the phone and grab the back of the man’s neck.
“He’s a bad-ass — look at him, he wants to fight me, he wants to fight me!” the man says in the video.
The men were quickly separated and Lopez left the restaurant.
Lopez was in Las Cruces filming the upcoming faith-based movie “Walking with Herb.”
Police talked to Lopez the day after the encounter at his trailer at Red Hawk Golf Course, where some movie scenes were filmed. He told police he was baited into the altercation.
The alleged victim and Lopez have differing stories about what happened leading up to the moment captured on video.
According to the police report obtained by the Sun-News, the man told police he arrived at the restaurant and noticed a group of people taking photos with Lopez. The man told police he asked Lopez for a photo. The man claims Lopez grabbed his cell phone, recorded his own genital area, deleted the video and then returned the phone.
The man told police he then returned to the waiting area by the front door. Later, the man said, he saw Lopez leaving the restaurant and that’s when he started to record again, according to the police report.
Lopez told police he and the film crew went to Hooters that night “to watch the Rams game.” While seated, Lopez said the alleged victim came to their table and, while recording on his cell phone, put his arms on Lopez’s shoulder and said, “MAGA,” referring to the Donald Trump refrain, “Make America Great Again.”
Lopez, who has not been shy about sharing his dislike for the president, was filmed last year emptying a water bottle, simulating urination, on to the president’s star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame.
Following the incident at the table at Hooters, Lopez told police the man walked to the front door and waited there until Lopez and his group finished eating and got up to leave the restaurant.
He told police he saw the man approach again, while recording on his cell phone, and that he did try to reach for the phone and stop the filming. Lopez admitted to police he grabbed the man during the encounter.
Lopez believes the man was waiting by the front door “to get him upset on camera because of his ‘MAGA’ statements,” according to the police report.
Lopez told police one of the patrons who helped separate the men yelled at him following the encounter. The patron allegedly said “Don’t come back to New Mexico” and “Nobody wants you to be here.”
The patron spoke to the Sun-News and asked not to be identified. He said that he felt what Lopez did was wrong, which is why he intervened.
“The video pretty much explains it, on what he did to that gentleman. I felt what he did was wrong by grabbing him by the throat. He didn’t need to do that. Nobody should ever touch another person, no matter what,” the patron said. “No matter what the case may be, he should’ve never grabbed him. That’s disrespect to the gentleman that he grabbed. I don’t even know the gentleman, i just happened to be right there. You should never lay hands on somebody else.”
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