The deputy who snapped dozens of close-up pictures of human remains from the helicopter wreck that killed Kobe Bryant and his daughter Gianna testified Friday that he didn’t regret doing so — and mentioned he was unaware the NBA legend was one of the victims.
Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Deputy Doug Johnson took the stand in the third day of Vanessa Bryant’s federal lawsuit in opposition to the county and mentioned he took 25 photos on the California crash web site and texted them to 2 firefighters that he believed have been excessive up in command.
Johnson mentioned a couple of third of his photos have been close-up pictures of physique elements and informed the courtroom they have been taken on the behest of Dept. Raul Versales, who was on the command publish on the backside of the Calabasas hill the chopper slammed into.
Attorneys for Bryant, who allege that employees took “photos as souvenirs,” countered Johnson’s declare by enjoying a recording of Versales saying, “All of us on the command publish, together with myself, we didn’t request pictures.”
The deputy’s testimony additionally contradicted the sworn assertion of Malibu Search & Rescue Group Reserve Deputy David Katz, who informed the courtroom Thursday that Johnson had informed him he took 100 photos.
Johnson testified he and one other deputy hiked by means of the tough terrain of the hillside and bought to the crash web site at about 11:30 a.m. on Jan. 26, 2020, discovering it strewn with severed physique elements.
Upon arrival he talked to 2 males who he thought have been officers with Los Angeles County Hearth, he testified. Johnson informed them that one of his assignments was to take photos of the whole scene.
When requested if he interpreted that to imply that he was instructed to take close-ups of physique elements, Johnson replied, “Sure, sir.”
The deputy testified he took pictures of a black man’s indifferent arm and hand, a close-up of a shin, a foot of darkish pores and skin tone, and a torso discovered close to the helicopter. The photographs have been presumably of the retired 41-year-old NBA star.
“I don’t keep in mind seeing the sufferer’s head,” Johnson mentioned. “I keep in mind [it having] a torso and having pants.”
Johnson mentioned he additionally took close-up photos of our bodies in a ravine. One of them was a toddler with lengthy black hair and black pores and skin — presumably Gianna, 13.
He despatched the grisly photos to Capt. Brian Johnson and one other uniformed firefighter that he assumed was a captain, based on the testimony. That particular person remained unidentified, he informed the courtroom.
At one level, one of Vanessa’s attorneys, Eric Tuttle, requested, “Did it ever happen to you that it’s not acceptable to have close-ups of human remains in your private mobile phone?”
Johnson replied, “No, sir,” and repeated the reply when requested if he regretted taking the pictures or if he would have accomplished something in a different way.
Throughout cross examination, Jennifer Mira Hashmall, the protection legal professional representing LA County, county sheriffs and the county fireplace division, requested Johnson if he knew who was concerned in the crash on the time.
“While you took the images, do you know it was Kobe Bryant who was in the air?”
“No, ma’am,” the deputy replied.
Johnson mentioned an inner investigation was performed and he was interviewed twice, however mentioned he was by no means disciplined in connection to a grievance lodged by Deputy Katz.
Attorneys for Vanessa have alleged that county officers inappropriately shared the non-public photos, inflicting her “extreme emotional misery and compounded the trauma of shedding Kobe and Gianna.”
The widow broke into tears Thursday as a bartender testified a deputy had proven him photos of Kobe’s remains whereas he was behind the stick.
Earlier Friday, a retired cop testified that officers in LA have a tradition of preserving “ghoul books” with graphic pictures of useless celebrities and different high-profile victims for their very own amusement.
Kobe, Gianna and 7 others — Christina Mauser; Payton and Sarah Chester; John, Keri and Alyssa Altobelli; and pilot Ara Zobayan — died when Bryant’s helicopter collided with a hillside amid dense fog.
The group had been on their approach to a youth basketball recreation in Thousand Oaks.