LOS ANGELES (Reuters) - Singer Chris Brown was charged on Thursday with felony assault and making criminal threats in what prosecutors say was a Grammy-eve attack on his girlfriend, the pop star Rihanna.
Brown, 19, will appear in court for an arraignment on Thursday afternoon and could face up to four years in prison if convicted, the Los Angeles District Attorney's Office said.
Prosecutors said Brown attacked Rihanna, 21, late on the night before the February 8 Grammy Awards in Los Angeles.
Both singers pulled out of scheduled performances at the televised awards show, and a photo of Rihanna's bruised and battered face was leaked onto the Internet.
Barbados-born Rihanna, whose full name is Robyn Rihanna Fenty, is identified in the complaint only as "Robyn F." She had not previously been identified by police as the victim.
The formal charges accuse Brown of assaulting Rihanna "by means of force likely to produce great bodily injury" and threatening to commit a crime "which would result in death and great bodily injury."
Local FOX-11 news in Los Angeles, citing a search warrant affidavit filed by police detectives, reported that the couple argued in a car after Rihanna read a lengthy text message from another woman on Brown's phone.
According to the documents, Brown tried to push Rihanna from his rented Lamborghini but couldn't because she was wearing a seatbelt.
Brown then shoved Rihanna's head against the passenger window and repeatedly punched her in the face, spattering blood in the car and on her clothing and filling her mouth with blood, FOX said.
During the beating, Rihanna left a message for an assistant to have police waiting for the couple at home, FOX reported, prompting Brown to tell her: "You just did the stupidest thing ever. I'm going to kill you."
According to the documents obtained by FOX, Brown then continued to punch Rihanna, bit her ear and finger and put her into a headlock until she nearly lost consciousness.
The charges were filed a week after Brown and Rihanna, who dated for about a year, were reported by celebrity magazines to have reconciled.
Brown broke onto the Billboard charts in 2005 at the age of 16 with his single "Run It!" and sold 2 million copies of his self-titled debut album.
Rihanna also released her debut album in 2005 and had a number one hit single with "S.O.S" less than a year later. She followed with three more number ones: "Umbrella," "Take a Bow" and "Disturbia."
She won a 2007 Grammy Award for her single "Umbrella," a collaboration with the rapper Jay-Z.
Editing by Xavier Briand