“My thoughts and prayers are with the family of the victim,” Bieber said in a statement on Wednesday. “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 incident occurred on Tuesday shortly before 6 p.m., The Los Angeles Times reports, when a photographer crossed Sepulveda Boulevard near Getty Center Drive in order to take pictures of Bieber’s car, which had been pulled over on the 405 Freeway for a traffic top. The rapper Lil Twist, a friend of Bieber’s, was driving the car and the pop star was not present at the time.
The photographer was reportedly hit by another vehicle as he crossed the street to return to his own car and later died at Ronald Reagan UCLA Medical Center. According to LAT, the photographer was not crossing in a crosswalk and the motorist that struck him was fully cooperating with authorities.
Police have not released the victim’s name, however TMZ has identified him as freelance photographer Chris Guerra.
A first-of-its-kind anti-paparazzi law was passed in 2010 and punishes paps driving dangerously to capture images they will sell, but has since come under scrutiny. Last year, a Los Angeles Superior court judge threw out charges related to the law, saying that it violated 1st Amendment protections by overreaching and could affect other photographers. In that case, Bieber had been pulled over on the 101 Freeway in the San Fernando Valley and was cited for speeding. Bieber said that he was being chased by a paparazzo at the time.