Hollywood star Keanu Reeves and the man who is suing him took turns in the dock, offering different accounts of an incident the photographer said left him seriously injured.
Reeves told jurors in the civil case at a Los Angeles court that he drove his Porsche forwards 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 last year and had been followed by Mr Silva from the Sunset Strip.
Reeves emphatically told jurors he did not hit Mr Silva with his bumper.
Mr Silva testified the opposite, saying the bumper of Reeves’ Porsche hit his knee and sent him reeling backwards. He then fell and claims his wrist was seriously injured, limiting his ability to work.
“What really happened, the car hit me, and I went backwards and tried to protect myself,” Mr Silva said.
Mr Silva’s testimony was interrupted by a court recess. He will retake the stand today, when Reeves’ lawyer 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 was not 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 Mr 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 forwards slowly, but that he was sure he did not hit Mr Silva.
The actor said he saw Mr 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.
Yesterday’s testimony offered some insight into the brinkmanship that Reeves and Mr Silva employed on the evening of the incident.
Mr Silva followed Reeves to a residential neighbourhood south of 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 Mr 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.
Mr Silva acknowledged none of those were sellable images of Reeves, who he called a “shark” – a paparazzi code for a celebrity who is not 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.
What happened next will be the subject of testimony that could continue until Friday.
Reeves’ lawyer said in opening statements yesterday that Mr Silva repeatedly changed his story the night of the accident.
Reeves was at times sarcastic while being questioned by Mr Silva’s lawyer. When asked whether he tried to motion Mr 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 lawyer asked whether Reeves could really see enough of the front of his car to know he did not hit Mr Silva, the actor replied that he could see Silva’s knees. “I can’t read my licence plate,” he added.
He also took a jab at Mr Silva’s images, telling jurors they were “darker than what it was.”
Mr 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 yesterday’s evidence focused on the incident, Reeves’ lawyer did take some time to let the actor rattle off some of his credits.
Asked to name some of his favourite movies that he had appeared in, Reeves singled out about seven, including 'The Matrix', 'Speed', 'My Own Private Idaho' and 'Dracula'.