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Justin Bieber photographer fatally struck by car; driver not charged

January 2, 2013 12:00:00 AM PST
Los Angeles police released the driver who struck and killed a photographer who was crossing a busy street after taking pictures of Justin Bieber's Ferrari.

The accident occurred around 5:45 p.m. Tuesday near Sepulveda Boulevard and Getty Center Drive. Police said a friend of Bieber's was driving his white Ferrari and was stopped for speeding by a California Highway Patrol officer on the northbound 405 Freeway at Getty Center Drive. The singer was not in the vehicle.

The photographer, 29-year-old Chris Guerra, parked his car, crossed Sepulveda Boulevard and took some pictures. Officers said they twice told Guerra to return to his car. He was crossing Sepulveda to get back to his vehicle when he was hit by an SUV.

Investigators said the driver who struck the photographer made a U-turn and called 911. She was interviewed by police and released from the scene. According to officials, it did not appear that the woman was at fault because the photographer was crossing a busy roadway outside of a crosswalk.

The driver of the SUV that struck Guerra was identified as Joyce Harris, 69. She will not be charged, according to authorities.

Christopher Moore, a radio broadcaster known as "Lil Twist," was identified as the driver of Bieber's Ferrari. Moore issued a statement through a representative Wednesday: "Lil Twist sends his thoughts and prayers to the family of the victim."

Guerra was reportedly from Sacramento. He recently moved to L.A. to be a photographer.

"We always get the label of being the bad guys, but most of the guys like Chris was a humble guy. He loved the people that he was following and was respecting the celebrity. He always played by the rules," said friend and fellow photographer Thibault Mauvilain.

Bieber issued a statement through a spokesperson Wednesday:

"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 death has reinvigorated the debate over the dangerous lengths that paparazzi go to get their photos.

The first test of a 2010 paparazzi law failed in December in another case involving Justin Bieber and a high-speed chase down the 101 Freeway. Photographer Paul Raef was charged with two counts under the law, but a judge struck down both counts, saying it was overly broad and impinged on the First Amendment.

SAG-AFTRA released a statement Wednesday:

"We believe that everyone -- our members, the media that covers them, and the general public should be able to go about their lives safe from the very real risks of injury and death caused by the pressure to get a shot at all costs."