While Justin Bieber was away from the scene of a deadly car crash that claimed the life of a celebrity photographer after he snapped pictures of a Ferrari he owned, the pop star has expressed his condolences to the person's family.
Meanwhile, fellow pop star Miley Cyrus, who like Bieber, is often followed by a swarm of paparazzi, has posted a lengthy rant on Twitter about the incident, which she said it was "bound to happen." She also said "paparazzi are dangerous" and cited the 1997 death of Princess Diana.
'While I was not present nor directly involved with this tragic accident, my thoughts and prayers are with the family of the victim," Bieber, 18, said in a statement obtained by OTRC.com. "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."
A person believed to be his friend was driving the pop singer's Ferrari when police pulled it over on January 1 on Los Angeles' busiest highway, which was emptier than usual due to the New Year's Day holiday.
The celebrity photographer, whose name has also not been released, spotted the vehicle on the side of the road and ran across a parallel road to snap pictures. A cop ordered him to return to his own car. The paparazzo then ran back and was struck by another vehicle. Its driver turned back and tried to help the man, who died of his injuries on the scene, authorities say.
No charges are expected to be filed against the person who hit him. The Ferrari driver had been pulled over for speeding and was released with a warning, OTRC.com has learned.
One of the photographer's colleagues, Thibault Mauvilain who runs a celebrity photo agency, told OTRC.com's parent company, KABC Television that he came to pay his respects to the man, who he called "a great kid."
"He was just a kid," Mauvilain said. "He loved the people that he was following and he was respecting the celebrity. He always played by the rules.
Bieber himself was pulled over in Los Angeles twice in 2012 and during the first incident, in which he was cited for speeding, he had called 911 himself, saying he was being chased by paparazzi.
Years ago, photographers could potentially sell a photo or a video of a popular celebrity in public to a tabloid for up to several thousands of dollars, especially if it shows a star caught in an embarrassing situation.
But factors such as a weakened U.S. economy, an increase in visual material submitted by witnesses, or "tipsters," for little to no compensation and self promotion by stars on social media has lowered the demand and price for such content.
"It's too risky and the money is not there anymore," Mauvilain said. "Even though we try to stay within the limit of whatever is legal, this is a dangerous job.
"PAPARAZZI ARE DANGEROUS"
Cyrus said on Twitter on Tuesday evening, regarding the death of the celebrity photographer: "Hope this paparazzi/JB accident brings on some changes in '13."
"Paparazzi are dangerous!" she added. "Wasn't Princess Di enough of a wake up call?! It is unfair for anyone to put this on to Justin's conscious as well! This was bound to happen! Your mom teaches u 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. (sic)"
Princess Diana, mother of the UK's Princes William and Harry and one of the most famous contemporary royal icons, and boyfriend Dodi al-Fayed were killed in a car crash in Paris in August 1997 after being chased by celebrity photographers. The incident spurred fresh debate about privacy laws regarding celebrities.
Last year, one of the celebrity photographers pursuing Bieber before he reported being chased was later charged with following a vehicle too closely and reckless driving, with the intent to capture pictures for commercial gain and "failing to obey the lawful order of peace officer."
The incident marked the first implementation of 2010 legislature that imposes additional penalties on paparazzi driving dangerously in order to obtain photos or videos for commercial gain. However, a judge later dismissed the two counts of anti-paparazzi charges that were filed against the person, saying that Los Angeles should have increased penalties for reckless driving instead of targeting photographers."