Will Smith’s Security failure

Let me start by saying that this incident appeared on the airwaves while i was at the PSC conference in Baltimore, MD but since no one wants to critique the security response [lack of response] I will. I want to thank my good friend [a real shooter] who sent this to me for today’s blog.

Let me start by saying that i have no idea where the event took place however, pressing the flesh and dealing with over zealous people is the same. From the first angle of the video you can see the “reporter” approach Smith with his left hand across his [Smith’s] and pulls him in for a standard European greeting of kissing each cheek. It appears that Smith obliges him and commits to the exchange. I then see the reporter cup his left hand around the neck which secures Smith in the embrace. As he attempts to finish the greeting Smith attempts to separate himself from the romantic reporter, yet you see that the muay thai style lock is not easily broken. Then the slap comes. That is what transpired.

So why am I blogging? I am blogging about what did NOT transpire. I watched this video over 20 times and I count 3 bodyguards-2 dark haired men and one bald headed male. The male leading the formation is positioned to Smith’s right and behind, what looks like event staff or an assistant. The bald headed bodyguard is to Smith’s left when the incident occurs. From the second you can see that there is a third bodyguard. Is there anything wrong with a simple hug? Under normal circumstances, probably not, however there was a point where it should have turned on the lights. The arm around the neck should have been met with a response by the bald headed BG by removing the arm. He did NOTHING. When Smith pushes the reporter it is a clear signal of some level of distress. No matter what language you speak that behavior means, “Get off of or away from me” yet no one addresses it. No one ever gets between the reporter and Smith. In the second view you can see that the BG leading the formation takes 2 steps forward, but never moves into any position to help. In fact there is a moment when Smith makes a joke of the matter, the BG in the lead position is looking at Smith which he jokingly dismisses when he said he shouldn’t have said, “sucker punch” on camera. A part of me thinks he just realizes the entire incident was filmed and would be hitting the TMZ story line. It was more of an “oh sh… Smirk than a confirmation of humor.

As Smith and his entourage move on, you see the bald headed BG walk past the reporter, arms still folded and never looks back at him. It is then and only then that you see the 3rd BG who, up until then, never participates in what he is paid to do-Protect. I have no idea who these guys are, but I know when I see a failure to react/respond. I know the three missions of protection: Intentional harm, unintentional harm and embarrassment. In this video we see that there was an intentional failure to respond which unintentionally leaves the industry in embarrassment-AGAIN. There comes a time when many specialist can get into a groove and fall asleep on their feet. All three of the guys were comatose. Perhaps one premiere rope line greeting is just like all the rest to them. Recent examples like President Sarkozy, Mitt Romney et al are current enough to treat human gatherings with more vigilance. However their response was non existent and then they never recovered after the incident. Well here is your wake up call. You have made it to the BPI Blog. Thanks to TMZ.com who high lights the slap, I got 2 angles of bodyguards sleeping on the job. I dare anyone to defend the actions, or should I say non existent actions of these guys. If you feel nothing was done wrong, please remove your EP certificate from your wall and replace it with a mirror. Everytime you pass the mirror tell that person, “This is the guy that thought he knew executive protection and has been fooling me all along.”

Mr. Smith, it’s time to go shopping on google.com again. Enjoy the video or at least try to.


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  1. Yiannis Varlas

    I totaly agree with you mr Konohia.Best Regards-Yiannis

    1. Eric Konohia

      I appreciate your boldness in responding. I venture to say that there are many that agree with my assessment but are afraid to step out into the open at the risk of getting chastised.

      Thank you for your support

  2. Josh

    Wow…those BG’s had the situational awareness of a pencil. I would love to say I’m shocked when A-list celebs like Will Smith and many others have such poor security…however I’m not. Will they ever get it?

    1. Eric Konohia

      You and I have corresponded in the past and all I can say is that the more guys like you can help get this message out, the sooner clients can be more educated on the bill of goods they are receiving and what is really out there for them.

  3. Yann A. Mouret,CPP

    However taxing working for showbiz personalities can be, there is no excuses for sleeping on the job like that! I’ve told (too many times to bother counting) by A-listers that I needed to relax as everyone was just soooo nice in South Africa, and what danger could there be, yet I never let a client get closed-in that bad. Vigilance, vigilance!
    Thanks Eric for an always informative blog!

    1. Eric Konohia

      Thanks Yann

  4. Rich D.

    Are you sure they were BG’s, and not just stand in stooges? My red light would have gone off as soon as that guy wanted to greet him in that manor!! They get paid to maintain separation. The job isn’t easy, body language will dictate what you do next. But this body language was screaming INTERJECT!!!! Intercept!!! What is worse, these guys are filmed…. now we will know them as “those guys”

    1. Eric Konohia

      They NEVER switched on at any point.

  5. Shawn

    I saw this video a few days ago and thought, what an embarressment to Mr. Smith. I didn’t think at that moment about the industry until you pointed that out.
    There was information available that mentioned this reporter always greets in the manner shown in the video. It seems like little to no background was conducted. Who had access to be within 3-5 feet of Mr. Smith?
    In a public setting which Mr. Smith was in, the protection team has to be “always on”, ready to go at a moments notice. However on the other side of the coin, if the BG was too aggressive by confronting the reporter, pushing him away, there would have been a different video on TMZ.
    I agree which your observation regarding the cupped hand around the back of Mr. Smith’s neck, which should have displayed to an alert BG that the reporter was trying to gain control.
    Always a lesson to be learned, unfortunately its at the expense of our industry

    1. Eric Konohia

      This guy did the same thing to Madonna and was known to do it. Did anyone pre-walk the route to identify him? He was easy to find. He’s the dude with all white on. Almost the same scenario when Corazon Aquino was stabbed at an all white even where the assailant approached wearing all black.

      To put an end to this hollywood crap this event took place in Russia. Now, I ask all the defenders of these guys. Would you do anything differently now

  6. Kelli McCrary

    Great assessment, Eric. One of the first teachings agents learn about working with international clients or in other countries…Know the culture, know the customs. In this case, an agent’s what-if scenarios should have included ~ I’m aware that this is a customary greeting…how can I better prepare myself and my client for this up-close and potentially threatening encounter along this line? How am I going to protect my client from what is now an embarrassing situation (See Smith’s awkward explanation). Ask yourself, am I more concerned about appearances or the protection of my client? Smith’s “people” had an opportunity to intervene calmly and effectively just by being present at any point of that encounter.

    Smith’s people all appeared to be too comfortable along that red carpet line, almost as if they were there to be seen. I’m not a defender of Smith’s people, but to address your question as to what would my team do differently now: preparation and execution! The fundamentals remain the same.

    1. Eric Konohia

      Ah Kelli. So true. You have the advantage because you are old school Vance international. Let the lessons begin people. Kelli is one of Vance’s “go to” female agents back in the good ole days.

    2. Kelli McCrary

      Thanks, Eric. Vance was the good ole days. Glad to have you still representing the professionalism and escalation of the industry.

  7. Matt Marshall

    Eric- From my observations there were multiple failures by his protection team. First, you are correct, they should have identified this particular gentleman in advance and closed their distance on Mr. Smith as they got closer to the reporter’s location. The “bald guy” should have been within arms reach with his hands properly positioned to react to not only the actions of the reporter but also the reaction of Mr. Smith. They honestly dropped the ball and not only did they fail to protect him from harm and embarrassment, they put Mr. Smith in a position to let his agitation towards the reporter cause a response that could be construed as less than favorable. As protection professionals, one of the things we also have to be aware of is the propensity for people to file lawsuits for nearly any ridiculous reason you can think of and a slap to the face from a well known celeb on camera is a good enough reason. I don’t know who these guys are on his team but Mr. Smith needs to seriously reevaluate his security posture and how things are being done to keep him safe and out of the headlines for matters like this.



    1. Eric Konohia

      Thanks Matt. I appreciate your response. Coming from a guy that has done it at the highest levels I know that you understand the levels of failure that occurred. Great meeting you at the PSC as well

  8. news

    I experimented with viewing your web site in my cellphone and the design doesnt seem to be correct. Might want to check it out on WAP as well as it seems most mobile phone layouts are not really working with your website.

    1. Eric Konohia

      Thank you for that information. I will have my IT look into that, however iPhone and Androids are able to access

  9. Austin

    Mr. Konohia,

    It amazes me how relaxed people get in the security world. I work with a few individuals currently at a classified military location that are constantly playing games or watching movies on their phones. Being responsible for Anti-Terrorism/Force Protection, physical security of infrastructure, and Law enforcement you would think they would be looking around observing and pay attention to every minuet aspect.

    As an EP agent you should be always be running scenarios through your head on the “What Ifs”. Also if you don’t like your job and don’t want to do what you are suppose too you should find another line of work.

    On top of all this part of our jobs is to keep in shape and pass an annual physical readiness test. We have three individuals that are failing.

    Thought I’d put two bits in on the lack of attention to detail.

    1. Eric Konohia

      Thanks for your comments Austin

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