Metro

Owner of Martha’s Vineyard restaurant defends Bill Murray in spat with photographer

Actor Bill Murray.
Rich Fury/Getty Images
Actor Bill Murray.

The owner of a Martha’s Vineyard restaurant that was the scene of a dust-up between actor Bill Murray and a photographer said Friday that Murray never touched the other man, who had annoyed the entertainer when he showed up unannounced to snap pictures of him.

The account from Katherine Domitrovich, owner of Lola’s in Oak Bluffs, was starkly different from statements that acclaimed music photographer Peter Simon gave previously to police and the Globe.

Domitrovich said she was in the kitchen at Lola’s during the encounter Wednesday night but was told by customers that Simon began photographing Murray and didn’t comply with the actor’s request to stop.

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So eventually, Domitrovich said, Murray tossed a glass of water at Simon, but he never got physical as Simon claims.

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“Nothing went on, other than a glass of water,” Domitrovich said. “Peter is taking this to a whole different dimension because he wants the PR. I don’t care about PR. That’s why I don’t want photographers in my place.”

Meanwhile Simon, the 71-year-old brother of singer Carly Simon, told the Globe Friday he plans to decide in the next couple of days whether to file any criminal charges.

“I’ve got to talk to a few lawyers and figure if it’s worth it, and so forth and so on,” Simon said. “I think [Murray] has to suffer some sort of consequence for what he did.”

Simon said Domitrovich lied when she told police that he went to the restaurant specifically to photograph Murray.

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“I didn’t even know he was going to be there,” Simon said, adding that he thought Domitrovich was trying to protect a celebrity customer by giving a false account. “It’s probably a feather in her cap, to have this guy come [to Lola’s]. . . . I would like her to apologize. I knew my intentions were good.”

Simon said he also wants an apology from Murray and wouldn’t even be considering pressing charges if the actor offered one.

Attempts to reach Murray for comment haven’t been successful. He hasn’t responded publicly to Simon’s allegations.

Simon told police he was on assignment taking pictures for The Martha’s Vineyard Times at Lola’s when Murray accosted him, according to an incident report obtained by the Globe.

Simon said he was photographing a couple taking in a band at the restaurant for his weekly feature, Vineyard Scene, when he stepped into an alcove to check to see if he got any good shots.

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There, Simon felt someone, later identified as Murray, grab him from behind, turn him, and slam him up against a door, he said during a phone interview Thursday night. He thought it was a bouncer at first, he said, but then Murray, using an expletive, said he should throw Simon out of the restaurant and cause him bodily harm.

It wasn’t until they separated and Simon saw the man dancing that he recognized him as Murray, whose career has included roles in “Broken Flowers,” “The Limits of Control,” and “What About Bob?”

Jamie Kageleiry, associate publisher for the Vineyard Times, confirmed Thursday night that Simon’s assignment was to photograph the band and people enjoying the music. The paper didn’t know Murray would be there, she said.

But on Friday, Domitrovich scoffed at the notion that Simon didn’t expect Murray to be on hand. She said it’s well-known that Murray comes to Lola’s every Wednesday night during the summer to hear live music.

Simon, she said, never requested permission to take photos inside Lola’s before he arrived, and she wouldn’t have allowed it if he had asked.

“I have very high-profile clientele, and I respect their space,” Domitrovich said. “I don’t want photographers in there.”

Before the incident with Simon, Domitrovich said, Murray posed for pictures with her staff in the kitchen after enjoying a meal with friends.

“He’s a very nice, civil person,” she said of Murray.

Simon’s wife, Ronni Simon, has a different impression of the A-list star.

Writing on Facebook, she said her husband “did not escalate the situation, but rather gave [Murray] a peace sign and retreated. Some time later Peter was seated at a table and Bill Murray walked up to him and proceeded to pour water on him and his camera. . . . I sincerely hope Bill Murray and Lola’s give Peter the apology he deserves.”

The Cape and Islands district attorney’s office referred questions Friday to Oak Bluffs police, who couldn’t be reached for comment.

The police report said a sergeant responding to the scene advised Simon that “he could take out a criminal complaint for assault and battery at the Edgartown District Court.”

Simon, according to the report, told police he was uninjured and thought a disorderly conduct charge was more appropriate.

Asked Friday if he would consider civil litigation in lieu of criminal charges, Simon said, “I could. I just don’t know where I stand. I haven’t talked to a lawyer yet, and I don’t know what my options are. I’m kind of naive on this sort of thing.”

Domitrovich, for her part, doesn’t think anyone’s civilly liable for wrongdoing.

“I was very upset about the incident,” she said. “There’s no lawsuit. This is totally frivolous, what he’s trying to do.”

Travis Andersen can be reached at travis.andersen@globe.com. Follow him on Twitter @TAGlobe.