Bieber calls for laws after photographer is killed
Pop superstar Justin Bieber called for new laws cracking down on paparazzi Wednesday after a celebrity photographer was struck and killed by a passing motorist as he tried to shoot photos of Bieber's white Ferrari in Los Angeles.
The photographer, a man in his late 20s whom police wouldn't identify until they can notify his next of kin, was pronounced dead at UCLA Medical Center shortly after he was run over about 5:30 p.m. local time Tuesday, police said.
Authorities confirmed that Bieber, 18, wasn't in the Ferrari. It was being driven by a friend, whom they wouldn't identify, and it wasn't involved in the accident, police said.
The incident took place after a California Highway Patrol officer flagged the Ferrari for speeding on the northbound lanes of Interstate 405, said Madeline Nightingale, watch commander of the Los Angeles Police Department's West Traffic Bureau. The car then exited at Sepulveda Boulevard and Getty Center Drive, she told NBC News.
During the traffic stop, the photographer crossed the busy Sepulveda thoroughfare, which runs parallel to the 405, and tried to shoot photos of the vehicle's occupants from a perch on the narrow divider, she said.
The Highway Patrol officer on the scene repeatedly warned the man that his position was dangerous, she said. The man was then struck by a car traveling southbound on Sepulveda, Nightingale said.
No charges were expected to be filed against the motorist, who stopped and tried to administer assistance, Nightingale told NBC News. The driver was a woman with two young children in the vehicle, Nightingale said.
Thibault Mauvilain, a celebrity photographer who went to the scene of Tuesday's accident, told reporters that he knew the photographer who was killed.
"He always played by the rules. I'm not aware of him doing anything illegal," Mauvilain said, according to NBC 4 of Los Angeles.
"Some people will say he's just another crazy paparazzo trying to make the money. Actually, he was not a paparazzo. He was just another kid from New Mexico."
In a statement Wednesday, Bieber said: "While I was not present nor directly involved with this tragic accident, my thoughts and prayers are with the family of the victim."
He added: "Hopefully this tragedy will finally inspire meaningful legislation and whatever other necessary steps to protect the lives and safety of celebrities, police officers, innocent public bystanders and the photographers themselves."
In fact, California had such a law until just a few weeks ago.
In 2010, the state cracked down on paparazzi, adding extra penalties for photographers who drive dangerously in pursuit of pictures they intend to sell.
But in November — in a case also involving a photographer who was hoping to get pictures of Bieber at a traffic stop — a Superior Court judge struck down the law on constitutional grounds.
The behavior of celebrity photographers has been widely denounced ever since 1997, when Princess Diana died in a French auto accident that was initially blamed on pursuing photographers. The wreck was subsequently blamed on Diana's driver.
But other celebrities have also been caught up in dangerous incidents involving paparazzi:
-- In June 2011, Tori Spelling backed her car into the wall of her children's school in Tarzana, Calif., as she was being pursued by a photographer.
"Wht will it take?" Spelling tweeted at the time. "Someone dying for paparazzi to stop?"
-- In October 2009, a car driven by Nicole Richie was rear-ended by a car carrying two photographers in Beverly Hills, Calif. The driver was arrested and found to have no driver's license.
-- The same month, Brad Pitt was riding a motorcycle in Los Angeles when a photographer trying to get a picture rear-ended the actor with his car. Pitt and the motorcycle fell over, but he was uninjured.
-- In 2010, a photographer claimed that he was badly injured when a car in which Lindsay Lohan was riding ran him over outside a Hollywood nightclub. The photographer sued Lohan in January 2011; Lohan asked a court to dismiss the suit last summer.
-- In June, Lohan was involved in another crash when her rented Porsche ran into a truck in Santa Monica, Calif., while allegedly fleeing a pack of chasing paparazzi.