By DiMarkco Chandler:
The answer to this question should come as no surprise, however, many may have forgotten that one of the most famous people on earth more than a decade ago was killed while attempting to elude the pursuit of the paparazzi by car.
That is why L.A. Prosecutors should be applauded for their decision to filed charges against the photographer that pursued Justin Bieber on a Los Angeles freeway. The law, A.B. 2479, imposes stiffer penalties for photographers who drive recklessly or create a sense of “false imprisonment” by blocking sidewalks in the pursuit of celebrities.
The new law comes at a time when it appears that we have we forgotten the grim tragedy that occurred on August 31, 1997. That is the day Princess Diane’s life was ended following a crash, which resulted when her driver attempted to outrun paparazzi.
The Princess’s car was followed by photographers, who hoped to take some good photos of the prominent passengers. As they trailed the princess the number of paparazzi in pursuit grew. Diana’s chauffeur, Henri Paul was bent on out driving the paparazzi as he drove faster and faster. Paul took the fast road at the harbor of the river Seine, raced then into the tunnel under the place de Alma. The speed limit is 80 kilometers, he drove a full 180. Shortly after the entrance to the tunnel he completely lost control of the car and skidded from side to side finally crashing at high speed into the 13th concrete post according to princess-diana.com. The car with its passengers in it exploded upon impact. It was a scene that could have easily been reenacted on July 6, 2012.
That is why the paparazzo who allegedly chased Justin Bieber earlier this month in a high-speed chase along an L.A. freeway should face criminal charges. The L.A. city attorney’s office Wed have officially done the right thing. The case is the first filed under California’s anti-paparazzi law.
Freelance photographer Paul Raef, 30, was hit with a total of four counts from the July 6 incident. His charges are as follows from the City Attorney’s office press release:
“…Two counts of Vehicle Cod section 40008 (a), for both following another vehicle too closely and reckless driving, with the intent to capture pictures for commercial gain; one count of reckless driving; and one count of failing to obey the lawful order of a peace officer.”
According to City Atty. Carmen Trutanich, Raef will be facing up to one year in county jail a $3,500 fine.
Bieber was cited for driving 80 mph and driving recklessly on the 101 Freeway in L.A. while being chased by a pack of photographers. California Highway Patrol (CHP) pulled him over while the rest fled the scene.
According to officials, about 30 minutes after Bieber’s ticketing, he called 911 and said a Toyota Rav 4, which was involved in the earlier chase, was following him. CHP officers discovered the vehicle in a downtown L.A. parking garage and used the license plate to identify Raef as the driver.
“Anytime you do 90, the paparazzi are going to go 90,” Los Angeles City Councilman Dennis Zine told the LA Times, who called 911 to report the incident. “He was going from the fast lane to the slow lane to the shoulder in traffic. It was a very dangerous driving situation. I figured someone was going to crash, so I called 911.”
At the time of Diana’s crash is was unbelievable for the entire world that she was no longer alive. It would be equally unbelievable if Bieber were to experience such an avoidable tragedy.
Hopefully, the charges will serve as a warning to all that a $100 celebrity picture isn’t worth the risk.