Jurors Speed Through Decision; Keanu Reeves Cleared in Paparazzo Case

LOS ANGELES -- A Los Angeles jury Monday unanimously cleared Keanu Reeves of any liability for injuries a paparazzo claimed were caused when he was struck by the actor's Porsche last year.

Alison Silva contended that the actor hit him with his car on March 19, 2007, knocking him to the pavement of a Rancho Palos Verdes street and causing an injury to his left wrist that will never fully heal. But Reeves' attorney said Silva fell on his own after putting his hand on the hood of Reeves' car, then stepped backward and stumbled.

Jurors cleared Reeves of any liability for negligence after deliberating for just over an hour. The panel of six men and six women declined to comment as they filed out of the courthouse.

Reeves smiled and patted his lawyer, Alfred W. Gerisch, on the back as he left the courtroom. The 44-year-old actor left the building without speaking to reporters, but Gerisch held a brief news conference outside the courthouse.

"It's unfortunate the case was ever brought," the lawyer said. "It involved a lot of time and effort."

Silva said he accepted the jury's verdict.

"I respect the jury's decision," he said. "They did what they deemed was correct, and I have to life with that."

Silva said he will continue working as a photographer. Asked if he would try and take pictures of Reeves again, he replied, "Why not? It's a business."

Saying his client was a "timid" paparazzo that night, attorney Joseph S. Farzam on Friday asked jurors to return a damage award of about $640,800 to compensate his client for out-of-pocket expenses for medical bills, as well as for past and future lost earnings.

According to Farzam, when Reeves tried to drive away with a pedestrian in front of him, he was not being reasonably careful. "There was a living, breathing person in flesh and blood in front of his car," he told the jury.

The lawyer criticized Gerisch for using words like paparazzi-ism and mentioning the death of Princess Diana, who died in a car accident while being chased by photographers in Paris in August 1997, to paint Silva as an aggressive member of the paparazzi.

"He (Silva) wasn't being aggressive," Farzam said. "If anything he was being timid."

Farzam also scoffed at defense arguments that the wrist injury Silva maintains he suffered that night was actually largely related to one the Brazilian native suffered as a 12-year-old boy playing soccer.

Farzam admitted his client was negligent, but still put 90 percent of the fault on Reeves' shoulders.

But Gerisch told jurors that Silva was bent on getting a photo of Reeves that night and risked his own safety needlessly to do so.

"He was looking forward to making a lot of money that night from an image he thought he could sell," Gerisch said. "He threw caution to the wind; he threw out common sense."

Gerisch showed jurors video footage of Silva taking celebrity photos while balancing himself atop a high fence and holding razor wire with his left hand. He then is shown coming down from the fence while bracing himself on the wall with his left hand. The video was taken sometime after the run-in with Reeves, according to Gerisch.

"Does that look like Mr. Silva's life has been impacted?" he asked the jury.

The lawyer also said his client, the star of "Speed" and "The Matrix" trilogy, deserved some space that night after visiting a family member. "Just because you're an actor, you don't give up your privacy rights," Gerisch said.

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