Justin Bieber’s white Ferrari was pulled over by police on Wednesday, with many paparazzi in tow, trying to snap pictures of the young heartthrob possibly receiving a ticket. However, the 18-year-old singer was not behind the wheel, since he lent his car to a rapper friend, Lil Twist.
The incident occurred Tuesday evening, near Sepulveda Boulevard and Getty Center Drive. A 29-year-old photographer identified by the Los Angeles County coroner’s office as Christopher James Guerra, was killed after being struck by oncoming traffic while crossing Sepulveda to get back to his car. According to law enforcement sources, it is unlikely that charges will be filed against the driver, a 69-year-old woman, whom killed Guerra. “It would have been very difficult for her to see him,” the detective said, since there are no sidewalks or pedestrian crossings along the street where the photographer had been walking.
The newest celebrity mandate deals with the dangers of both celebrities and paparazzi safety. A statement released by Bieber expressed his condolences, while making the point that the laws involving celebrity and paparazzi safety need to be better upheld. “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,” Bieber said Wednesday.
In 2005, a series of incidents involving Reese Witherspoon, Scarlett Johansson, and Lindsay Lohan, sparked an increase in penalties for privacy intrusions, while also adding the ability to sue for assault with the intent to capture a visual image. Then, in 2009, Assembly Speaker Karen Bass, along with support from the Screen Actors Guild and actress Jennifer Aniston, got a law on the books, which imposed civil fines up to $50,000 for anyone buying a photo that was illegally taken. Another law was passed in 2010 when state lawmakers enacted legislation making it a crime to drive recklessly in pursuit of a commercial photograph, with punishment for up to a year in jail if a minor was involved in the pursuit.
Even with the laws in place, it seems like paparazzi will do anything to snap the picture they are after. When will the chase end? How many more deaths will it take to stregthen and uphold the laws that are already in place?
Singer/Actress, Miley Cyrus, made a good point when she took to her Twitter feed, expressing her anger and concern with Tuesday’s unfortunate incident, tweeting, “Hope this paparazzi/JB accident brings on some changes in ’13. Paparazzi are dangerous! Wasn’t Princess Di enough of a wake up call?!” Cyrus went on to say, “It is unfair for anyone to put this on to Justin’s conscious as well! This was bound to happen! Your mom teaches you when your a child not to play in the street! The chaos that comes with the paparazzi acting like fools makes it impossible for anyone to make safe choices.”
Cyrus is right; When will the paparazzi danger finally be enough to end the craze for photographs? What kind of changes are you hoping to see for the safety of celebrities and paparazzi after this tragic accident?