Who's Really at Fault in Locklear's DUI?

911 caller took photos of arrest and sold to TMZ for $27,500.

Oct. 1, 2008 — -- A celebrity news reporter called 911 to report that Heather Locklear appeared to be driving drunk, and then took photographs of the actress' DUI arrest, the woman's lawyer told ABCNews.com.

Jill Ishkanian, a former reporter and editor at Us Weekly magazine, called police Saturday night, saying Locklear appeared intoxicated, after what her lawyer, Nick Tepper, described as a chance encounter with Locklear in a Montecito, Calif., market.

Ishkanian then sold the photographs through an intermediary to the celebrity news site TMZ.com for $27,500, Tepper said in a written statement to ABCNews.com.

He denied that Ishkanian was following Locklear or that she set up the star to be arrested and photographed.

"There was no setup and there's no moral ambiguity," Tepper said, adding that there were other witnesses to the incident. "If you see someone driving impaired, you call the police and that's what she did. The implication that somehow my client did something wrong is absurd and defamatory."

In the statement to ABCNew.com, Tepper said, "The fact [Ishkanian] witnessed Ms. Locklear's erratic driving and reported it to the police did not mean she was disqualified from reporting the story, which she, in fact, did. Like any intrepid reporter, she was ready -- as always -- for the story and reported it when news broke."

Reached by phone tonight, Locklear's attorney, Blair Berk, declined to comment about the latest development and any news about her client's arrest.

The former "Dyansty" and "Melrose Place" star was arrested Saturday night in what appeared to be a standard celebrity mishap.

According to the California Highway Patrol, when officers responded to the scene, Locklear's car was obstructing the traffic lane, and she "appeared to be disoriented."

Officers arrested Locklear after performing a DUI test, the CHP said. "Although obvious impairment was exhibited during the tests, alcohol was ruled out as a factor," the CHP said. Locklear was subsequently arrested on suspicion of operating a motor vehicle under the influence of a controlled substance.

TMZ reported that Ishkanian called paparazzi after making the 911 call. Earlier today, Tepper denied the TMZ report, saying that Ishkanian was not involved with the photographs, which are credited to KM Press.

When asked about court and business records obtained by ABCNews.com that appeared to show a connection between Ishkanian and KM Press, Tepper released a statement admitting that Ishkanian was the photographer.

Tepper said Ishkanian did not credit herself with taking the photographs because she is involved in a $55 million lawsuit against her former employers at Us Weekly, making her a "persona non grata in the industry." He said his client was only performing "her civic duty" when she called 911.

Ishkanian, a former reporter and West Coast bureau chief for Us Weekly, left the magazine in 2005 and started Sunset Photo and News, a celebrity photo agency for whom she no longer works.

Ishkanian sued Us Weekly and its owner, Wenner Media, in 2007 for slander, breach of contract and infliction of emotional distress. She claimed that executives falsely told the FBI that Ishkanian hacked into the magazine's e-mail accounts, prompting a raid on her home and office, in order to destroy her professional reputation. The case is still pending.

According to a sworn statement from Timothy Walsh, vice president of Wenner Media, an internal investigation found that after Ishkanian left the magazine, she allegedly accessed another Us Weekly reporter's e-mail account and read confidential e-mails between the magazines reporters and editors.

Walsh claims that Ishkanian took the magazine's list of celebrity home addresses and contact information and used information from company e-mails to send her own photographers out on stories.

The allegations are under investigation by the FBI and the U.S. Attorney's Office in Los Angeles, a law enforcement source told ABCNews.com. Ishkanian has not been charged.

Ishkanian denies improperly accessing the e-mails. "The FBI was told things that weren't true," Tepper said.

Monday, TMZ.com posted a gallery of photos chronicling Locklear being handcuffed and taken away by police. TMZ claims they got the photos from Marc Mann, owner of KM Press Group. According to TMZ, Mann claims Ishkanian called him after calling 911 Saturday night.

It remains to be seen what will happen with Locklear's case. It's currently being reviewed by the Santa Barbara District Attorneys Office, which will decide whether to file charges, probably within the next two to three weeks, after toxicology tests are completed.

Lt. Dane Lobb of the California Highway Patrol, the agency that arrested Locklear, would not confirm that Ishkanian called 911 but said that the caller also gave a written and recorded statement and that he had no reason to think that she was not telling the truth.

He said the caller's motivations were irrelevant. "The facts are the facts," he said. "I don't recall asking 'why are you calling us.'"

Celebrity Setups

In a town where catching the rich and famous at their most vulnerable can pay off big time, some say it is not uncommon for celebrity journalists and paparazzi to attempt to set up their subjects.

In April, Jane Doe (a pseudonym) filed a lawsuit against Splash News in Los Angeles County's Superior Court alleging that two Splash photographers set up late actor Heath Ledger at a 2006 SAG after-party at the Chateau Marmont, first luring him with cocaine and then secretly videotaping him.

In the suit, Doe, who was working as a freelance reporter for People magazine at the time, claims that she and Darren Banks, a Splash News photographer, met Ledger on the grounds of the hotel and brought him, along with another Splash photographer, Eric Munn, to a room Doe had booked for the evening assignment. According to the suit, Munn offered Ledger cocaine and the actor already had some of his own. After that, Munn left the room.

From the balcony, Munn secretly recorded what was going on. Doe alleges she didn't know that she was being videotaped. Once Ledger realized he was being set up and allegedly discovered he was being recorded, he demanded the tape be destroyed and all parties agreed.

But after Ledger's death in January 2008, the tape was allegedly sold to"Entertainment Tonight" for $200,000. "Entertainment Tonight" and sister program "The Insider" heavily promoted the video in the days following Ledger's death, but after being rebuked by the actors' Hollywood friends, the TV shows ended up not airing the tape and issued an apology.

Doe seeks unspecified damages for fraud, distress and privacy violations. The case is still pending.

In November 2007, scandal-saddled pop star Britney Spears came under fire for allegedly running over a paparazzo's foot while leaving the Four Seasons Hotel in Beverly Hills. A video of Spears slowing driving her Mercedes SL65 as a photographer cried out in pain swept the Internet, seemingly providing proof of the incident.

But this past June, the LAPD decided not to charge Spears after determining that "the pictures and videos do not show the victim's foot being hit," according to a police report.

"[Spears] made a statement to the police indicating she had no recollection of the event and that she was not aware at the time that her car had come in contact with any one," the report added.