Justin Bieber's arrest after police say he drag-raced on a Miami Beach street and failed a sobriety test arrives less as a shock than a kind of inevitable conclusion: the culmination of nearly two years of chafing against the burden of his own celebrity.
"It's hard to hear all this news about @JustinBieber," talk show host Ellen DeGeneres tweeted Thursday. "I hope he makes his way to adulthood without him or anyone else getting hurt."
The singer's brief incarceration Thursday morning — not to mention a grinning mug shot that seems sure to redefine Bieber in the public imagination — comes less than two months after "The Fast and the Furious" star Paul Walker was killed in a fiery single-car accident in Valencia.
In the last year, Bieber, 19, has been dogged by numbingly constant tales of his bad-boy behavior — reported visits to strip clubs and a brothel in Brazil, urinating in a mop bucket at a New York restaurant and leaping from a van to physically confront paparazzi in London — all in an apparent turn away from his carefully manicured teen star image.
And in what until now had been Bieber's most egregious violation of celebrity protocol, Los Angeles County Sheriff's deputies served a felony search warrant at his Calabasas home earlier this month looking for evidence that Bieber allegedly tossed eggs at a neighbor's home, causing $20,000 in damage (the performer's friend, rapper Lil Za, was arrested during the search on drug possession charges).
While Bieber largely refrained from commenting on his tabloid foibles and whatever growing pains he may be experiencing, a recent concert documentary, "Justin Bieber's Believe," chronicles the star's bumpy transition from apple-cheeked tween heartthrob to a headstrong pop stalwart with a burgeoning awareness of his shelf life as the Top 40's harem-pants-wearing pied piper.
"A lot of people want me to fail," Bieber is shown saying in "Believe."
With cracks in his carefully maintained image already beginning to show, "Believe" director Jon Chu asked the superstar in October how he planned to avoid the fate of such troubled celebrities as Michael Jackson and Lindsay Lohan. Bieber's initial response, which was left out of the finished movie, proves insightful.
"He doesn't know how to answer the question at first," Chu told The Times. "Even when he starts to give reasoning — 'I live in a great house and nothing can go wrong here' — I'm like, 'Everything can go wrong here! Don't you get it? You need to be aware, that's where the problem starts!' His face is kind of surprised. I'm not sure he'd fully thought it through yet."
Instead, the singer is shown strenuously denying that he will turn into a "train wreck."
"There is no train wreck!" Bieber says in the movie. "I'm not going to be stupid enough to let that happen."
At 4:09 a.m. Thursday, however, the performer was pulled over after Miami Beach police spotted two sports cars racing in a residential area. Bieber was said to be behind the wheel of a yellow Lamborghini. Authorities said R&B singer Khalil Sharieff (who only uses his first name professionally) was driving the other sports car, a red Ferrari. Khalil was also arrested, and both cars were towed.
The three-page arrest report — which Miami Beach police uploaded to the department's official Twitter account — said Bieber cursed out a police officer.
"Why the … are you doing this?" Bieber is quoted as saying. "What the … did I do? Why did you stop me?"
Bieber told the officer he wasn't drunk, according to the arrest report, and was coming back from recording music. But the celebrity website TMZ has posted numerous photos showing the singer at a club the site says were taken shortly before the arrest.
And in a news conference shortly after the singer's booking, officers said Bieber "made statements he had consumed some alcohol, been smoking marijuana and consumed some prescription medication."
Asked repeatedly by an officer to place his hands on his car while being frisked, the portrait of a surprisingly combative Bieber comes into focus. "I ain't got no … weapons," he is quoted in the arrest report as saying. "Why do you have to search me?"
Even after several warnings, authorities said, the Grammy-nominated singer continued to disobey the officer, who "grabbed his right hand and stated to him that he was under arrest."
The Canadian pop superstar was charged with resisting arrest without violence and driving with an expired license.
After posting a $2,500 bail bond, a solemn-looking Bieber climbed onto the roof of a black SUV. He briefly waved at fans who had massed to greet his release in front of the Turner Guilford Knight Correctional Center and was gone.
Times staff writer Michael Muskal contributed to this report.
[Updated 5:30 p.m. PST Jan. 23: In an earlier version of this post, the car driven by Khalil Sharieff was described as a red Lamborghini. It was a red Ferrari.]