Bieber fronts police over assault (The West)
Justin Bieber arrives at a Toronto police station over an alleged assault. Picture: Associated Press

Justin Bieber has been charged with assault for allegedly hitting a Toronto limousine driver several times in the back of the head last month.

Bieber turned himself in to a Toronto police station, arriving amid a crush of media and screaming fans.

He was charged with one count of assault and is scheduled to appear in court in Toronto on March 10.

Police allege Bieber was one of six people who were picked up by a limousine from a nightclub in the early morning hours of Dec. 30, and there was an altercation while en route to a hotel.

Police said that during the altercation one of the passengers hit the limousine driver in the back of the head several times.

“The driver stopped the limousine, exited the vehicle and called police,” a statement said.

"The man who struck him left the scene before police arrived.”

Howard Weitzman, Bieber's attorney in California, said his client is innocent and declined to comment on the allegations against Bieber or any potential defense, saying it was now a matter for the court to handle.

Weitzman said he expects the case to be treated as a summary offense, which is the equivalent of a misdemeanor in the United States.

“The Toronto Police Service requested that Justin Bieber appear in Toronto today to face an allegation of assault relating to an incident on December 29, 2013. We anticipate that this matter will be treated as a summary offense, the equivalent of a misdemeanor in the United States,” he said in a statement.

Toronto police said in late December they were looking into allegations that a member of Bieber's entourage assaulted a limousine driver who was ferrying the Canadian pop star and several others.

Police said at the time it was unclear whether Bieber was involved.

It is the latest incident in a series of bad news for Bieber, who has pleaded not guilty to charges of DUI, resisting arrest and driving with an expired licence in Florida.

Court records show that Bieber's lawyer filed the written plea yesterday in Miami-Dade County.

Bieber already has an arraignment set for February 14, but Florida law doesn't require the 19-year-old pop star to be present.

Lawyer Mark Shapiro says a decision on whether Bieber will attend has not been made.

Bieber and R&B singer Khalil Amir Sharieff were arrested last week in Miami Beach during what police described as an illegal street drag race between a Lamborghini and a Ferrari.

Neither has been charged with drag racing.

Police say Bieber cursed at an officer and admitted to smoking marijuana, drinking and taking a prescription medication.

Details of the plea emerged as Barack Obama's administration considers a petition calling for Bieber to be deported to Canada.

By yesterday afternoon, a petition on the White House website calling for the deportation of the Canadian-born teen idol had garnered 103,000 names - easily surpassing the threshold of 100,000 signatures required for presidential consideration.

“We the people of the United States feel that we are being wrongly represented in the world of pop culture,” says the petition, created by one “J.A.” in Detroit on January 23, the day Bieber was busted in Miami Beach for impaired driving and illegal drag racing in a flashy Italian sports car.

“We would like to see the dangerous, reckless, destructive and drug-abusing Justin Bieber deported and his green card revoked.

"He is not only threatening the safety of our people but he is also a terrible influence on our nation's youth. We the people would like to remove Justin Bieber from our society.”

The White House website hosts citizens' petitions on other, more heady issues such as the legalisation of marijuana and a pardon for National Security Agency whistleblower Edward Snowden.

“Every petition that crosses the threshold will be reviewed by the appropriate staff and receive a response,” assistant White House spokesman Matt Lehrich said.

But State Department spokeswoman Jen Psaki cautioned that the petition program “doesn't always determine a step will be taken, it's more of another opportunity for the voices of the American people to be heard.”

There was no comment from Bieber himself, who according to gossip websites was back in Los Angeles on Wednesday after a weekend beach break in Panama.

Bieber, 19, is understood to be living and working in the US under a renewable O-1 visa for entertainers, rather than a green card for permanent resident status.

It remains unclear whether Bieber's visa to stay in the US would be affected by his arrest.

The West Australian

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