Keanu Reeves and the paparazzo who’s suing him took turns on the witness stand Tuesday, offering different accounts of an incident the photographer said left him seriously injured.
Reeves told jurors in the civil case that he moved his Porsche forward slowly to try to get the paparazzo, Alison Silva, to move out of his way. Reeves had just finished visiting a relative in Rancho Palos Verdes in March 2007 and had been followed by Silva from the Sunset Strip.
Reeves emphatically told jurors he did not hit Silva with his bumper.
Silva testified the opposite, saying the bumper of Reeves’ Porsche hit his knee and sent him reeling backward. He then fell and contends his wrist was seriously injured, limiting his ability to work.
“What really happened, the car hit me, and I went backward and tried to protect myself,” Silva said.
Silva’s testimony was interrupted by a court recess. He will retake the stand on Wednesday, when Reeves’ attorney will have a chance to question him.
He is suing Reeves for lost wages and medical expenses. A judge has already barred him from seeking punitive damages.
The 28-year-old Brazilian told jurors he wasn’t really paying attention to Reeves’ car but trying to get a shot of the actor. He said he thought Reeves would simply drive around him.
But the “Matrix” star said Silva was in his way and refused to move. Gesturing with his hands throughout his hour-long testimony, Reeves said he tried to move the car forward slowly, but that he was sure he didn’t hit Silva.
“My intention was to show I had the right of way,” Reeves said.
The actor testified he saw Silva’s feet get tangled before he fell to the ground. Reeves then parked his car, tried to summon aid and then came out to check on the photographer.
One incident, two decidedly different views
Tuesday’s testimony offered some insight into the brinksmanship that Reeves and Silva employed the evening of the incident.
Silva followed Reeves to a residential neighborhood about 30 miles south of downtown Los Angeles, staying several car lengths back to avoid detection, he said. He waited for about an hour for Reeves to emerge from a building, hoping the actor would come out with a new girlfriend.
Instead, Reeves came out alone, with his hair in his face and his eyes pointed down. Reeves said he was trying to keep Silva from getting a usable shot.
“He was coming up to me as a paparazzo taking my picture,” Reeves said. “To me, it wasn’t great that he was there.”
Photos introduced into evidence show Reeves with long hair flowing over his face. One image after he got behind the wheel showed about half of Reeves’ face with the rest obscured by hair.
Silva acknowledged none of those were sellable images of Reeves, who he called a “shark” — a paparazzi code for a celebrity who isn’t often photographed.
“This is the worst picture I can get,” he said of his images. He told jurors he moved in front of Reeves’ car to try to get a better shot, and seconds later, dropped his camera and tumbled to the ground.
Did Silva chane his story?
What happened next will be the subject of testimony that could continue through Friday.
Reeves’ attorney said in opening statements on Monday that Silva repeatedly changed his story the night of the accident.
Reeves was at times sarcastic while being questioned by Silva’s attorney. When asked whether he tried to motion Silva out of the way or tell him to move, Reeves said no.
“He was in front of a started car,” the actor said. “It’s common sense to me.”
When the attorney asked whether Reeves could really see enough of the front of his car to know he didn’t hit Silva, the actor replied that he could see Silva’s knees. “I can’t read my license plate,” he added.
He also took a jab at Silva’s images, telling jurors they were “darker than what it was.”
Silva, who was a full-time paparazzo for only about six months before his run-in with Reeves, told jurors he was having problems that night with his flash and was only able to take a handful of pictures.
While most of Tuesday’s testimony focused on the incident, Reeves’ attorney did take some time to let the actor rattle off some of his credits. Asked to name some of his favorite movies that he had appeared in, Reeves singled out about seven, including “The Matrix,” “Speed,” “My Own Private Idaho” and “Dracula.”