Los Angeles police look over a shoe and hat on the ground that belong to a celebrity photographer struck by a vehicle and killed while attempting to take
Los Angeles police look over a shoe and hat on the ground that belong to a celebrity photographer struck by a vehicle and killed while attempting to take pictures of Justin Bieber's Ferrari. January 1,2013. Los Angeles California. Photo by Gene Blevins/LA DailyNews (GENE BLEVINS)

Superstar Justin Bieber says his thoughts and prayers are with the family of a photographer who was killed when he was hit by an SUV after snapping pictures of the singer's white Ferrari on a busy Los Angeles street. | PHOTOS

In a statement released Wednesday, Bieber said he hopes the tragedy will spur legislation to protect celebrities, police, bystanders and photographers.

"While I was not present nor directly involved with this tragic accident, my thoughts and prayers are with the family of the victim," Bieber said in a statement released by Def Island Jam Music Group.

"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 victim's name was not released, but TMZ.com identified him as Chris Guerra, a freelance photographer who regularly pursued shots of Bieber.

Authorities said a friend of Bieber's was driving the sports car, which was stopped for speeding at 5:45 p.m. Tuesday by a California Highway Patrol officer on the northbound San Diego (405) Freeway at Getty Center Drive.

The Ferrari exited at Getty Center Drive and pulled onto Sepulveda Boulevard, followed by the photographer, officials said.


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The photographer had parked his car, crossed Sepulveda Boulevard, took some pictures and was crossing the street back to his vehicle when he was hit by an SUV.

"He was warned by the CHP to get out of there," Los Angeles police officer Emilson Saint Julien of the West Traffic Bureau said. "He was crossing from the west side toward his vehicle on the east side. The car was going south on Sepulveda toward him and he was thrown north."

The woman motorist made a U-turn and came around to use her SUV to prevent others from hitting the photographer while she called 911, Saint Julien said. Paramedics rushed him to Ronald Reagan-UCLA Medical Center, where he was pronounced dead.

The woman motorist was interviewed and sent home to care for her children, although her vehicle remained at the crash scene, according to Saint Julien. It did not appear she was at fault because the photographer was in the wrong place.

"He was a pedestrian on a roadway outside a crosswalk," Saint Julien said. "Crossing Sepulveda is almost like crossing a freeway."

A friend at scene, Thibault Mauvilain, told ABC7 the photographer freelanced for several outlets and was "just a kid from New Mexico."

"He loved the people he was following," Mauvilain told ABC7. "It's too risky and the money's just not there anymore. And even though we try to stay within limits of whatever is legal, this is a dangerous job."

Coincidentally, a case involving Bieber was the first test of a California law aiming to crack down on reckless paparazzi.

In November, a judge threw out two charges against a photographer accused of chasing Bieber on the Ventura (101) Freeway through the San Fernando Valley.

Paul Raef was the first person charged under the 2010 law, which Superior Court Judge Thomas Rubinson said was overly broad.

Delivering his ruling in a Van Nuys courtroom, the judge said the law is problematic because it covers news-gathering activities protected by the First Amendment. He said lawmakers should simply have increased the penalties for reckless driving rather than targeting celebrity photographers.