LOS ANGELES (KTLA) — There are new calls from celebrities for tougher laws on the paparazzi following the death of a photographer who was trying to snap pictures of Justin Bieber’s Ferrari.
Bieber issued a statement through his representative on Wednesday, saying in part:
“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 photographer has not been officially identified by police, but TMZ identified him as Chris Guerra, 29.
Guerra was relatively new on the Hollywood scene. According to veteran paparazzo Rick Mendoza, Guerra moved to L.A. from Las Vegas with his brother last year to create a better life.
“One thing I’ll say about this kid… very humble and very grateful for every paycheck he got,” Mendoza told KTLA.
And it was a big paycheck that Guerra was hoping for when he stopped on a windy section of Sepulveda Boulevard Tuesday night to photograph Bieber’s car.
It was about 6 p.m. when a CHP officer pulled over the sports car on the 405 Freeway.
Officers say Guerra stopped his car on Sepulveda near Getty Center Drive and crossed the street to take pictures. Bieber was not in the car at the time.
Police say they told Guerra to return to his car. When he did, he was struck and killed by an SUV.
Celebrities have long expressed concern at paparazzi looking to get big money shots at the expense, they say, of safety.
But Mendoza, who appears in an upcoming film called “Celebrity,” says that as long as there is money to be made, aggressive photographers will look to cash in.
If Bieber had actually been inside the Ferrari being photographed, the picture could have been worth $100,000, according to Mendoza
And if the pop star had been arrested or caught breaking the law, he added, “We’re talking about $200,000, $300,000 now, becasue that’s going to circulate the world twice.”
Bieber’s call to action did get some support from another paparazzi target, singer and actress Miley Cyrus.
She wrote on Twitter that she hoped the accident “brings on some changes in ’13 Paparazzi are dangerous!”
There are questions about the constitutionality of anti-paparazzi laws, however.
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.