Paparazzo Killed Snapping Pics of Justin Bieber’s Car
LOS ANGELES (KTLA) — Police said charges are unlikely against a driver who struck and killed a paparazzo who had been taking pictures of Justin Bieber’s Ferrari.
The photographer has not been officially identified by police, but TMZ identified him as Chris Guerra, and said he was in his late 20s.
The incident took place around 6 p.m. Tuesday on Sepulveda Boulevard near Getty Center Drive.
Bieber’s sports car had been pulled over on the 405 Freeway by the California Highway Patrol for a traffic stop.
An officer with the CHP directed the driver of Bieber’s car off the freeway and onto Sepulveda.
The photographer, who was following the white Ferrari, got out of his car to take pictures.
Police instructed him to return to his vehicle because it was a dangerous spot of the Sepulveda Pass, with blind spots and speeding cars.
“He seemed reluctant to go back, but eventually he did,” LAPD Sgt. Rudy Lopez said.
“While this photographer returned to the vehicle, it did not appear as if he was looking, and he was struck by a vehicle traveling southbound on Sepulveda.”
The photographer was pronounced dead a short time later at Ronald Reagan UCLA Medical Center.
“He was just a kid. People misunderstand what’s going on her,” said a man who identified himself as Thibault, a friend of the victim.
“He was just like any of you guys — a reporter. Maybe it was a different field. He was specializing in celebrity news because that’s where he thought the money is.”
According to TMZ, Guerra had been working in a Las Vegas casino for several years and moved to L.A. in March to become a photographer.
Police said the driver who struck the him made a U-turn and called 911. She was interviewed by police and then released from the scene.
Officials said it did not appear she was at fault because the photographer was not crossing in a crosswalk.
Bieber offered his condolences to the victim’s familiy in a statement: “While I was not present nor directly involved with this tragic accident, my thoughts and prayers are with the family of the victim,” the statement said.
“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.”
The L.A. city attorney’s office was recently unsuccessful in its attempt to use a new state law against a paparazzo who sped on the 101 Freeway last year to capture Bieber receiving a ticket.
Passed in 2010, the law punishes paparazzi driving dangerously to obtain images they intend to sell.
But a judge said the law violated 1st Amendment protections, potentially affecting wedding photographers or those speeding to events where celebrities are present.