December 29, 2005

No charges filed in Lohan, paparazzi crash in L.A

By Steve Gorman

LOS ANGELES (Reuters) - Prosecutors investigating a car
crash involving teen actress Lindsay Lohan said on Thursday
they will not charge a celebrity photographer accused of
ramming his vehicle into hers.

The Los Angeles County District Attorney's office said it
lacked sufficient evidence to prosecute Galo Cesar Ramirez on
assault or stalking charges in a case that spurred calls for a
crackdown on aggressive paparazzi.

The May 31 crash was one of several such incidents that led
California Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger to sign into law stiffer
civil penalties for paparazzi and their agencies when they
commit assault in their pursuit of stars.

A broader investigation into whether some photographers
engage in criminal conspiracy to get snapshots of celebrities
was continuing, a spokeswoman for the district attorney said.

A representative for Lohan, 19, the star of such films as
"Mean Girls" and "Herbie: Fully Loaded," was not immediately
available for comment.

Ramirez, who worked for one of the city's top picture
agencies, was arrested near Beverly Hills after his minivan
collided with a Mercedes-Benz driven by Lohan. She and a
passenger were slightly hurt.

Police initially said the photographer intentionally rammed
his vehicle into Lohan's car when she made a U-turn to get away
from him. He was booked on suspicion of assault with a deadly

But prosecutors found insufficient evidence to support an
assault or a felony stalking charge, according to Deputy
District Attorney William Hodgman.

Based on damage to the vehicles, "it appears that, although
the suspect was most likely driving carelessly when he collided
with the victim's car, it was not an intentional assault,"
Hodgman wrote in his report.

A roll of film found in a camera taken from Ramirez'
vehicle contained no pictures of Lohan or the crash scene but
did contain photographs of other celebrities, the report said.

The actress was being pursued by "a number of cars
containing members of the paparazzi" at the time of the crash,
it added.

Other actresses including Reese Witherspoon and Scarlett
Johansson have been involved in recent traffic accidents blamed
on aggressive paparazzi.

Late last year, actress Cameron Diaz and singer Justin
Timberlake sued a pair of celebrity photographers, accusing the
two of trying to provoke a fight in order to take better
pictures. The photographers sued the couple, saying they had
been assaulted.