Gianna Bryant Rumors
This was Day 4 of her civil trial against Los Angeles County. But it was the first day that multiple county sheriff’s and fire department employees would be required to get up on the witness stand and answer questions in front of her about what they did. It wasn’t pretty. One witness, a retired fire captain named Brian Jordan, stepped down off the witness stand three times in distress Monday after being asked about taking photos at the scene of the helicopter crash that killed Bryant’s daughter and husband Kobe, the NBA legend. Jordan claimed not to remember anything about the crash scene even though he was there and took photos of what he saw. “Kobe Bryant’s remains were in the pictures you took?” asked Luis Li, Bryant’s attorney. “I need a break,” Jordan replied, before stepping down and leaving the court room for the first of those three interruptions.
After passing the photos along to other sheriff’s personnel, including Mejia, Versales said he deleted them that night. “I did not need to have photographs,” Versales testified in a pretrial deposition. On Monday, Versales gave a different account. “Later after thinking about it … I later on thought I needed it,” he testified Monday, explaining he needed the photos to pass along to others.
The lawsuit says that by sharing the photos, those involved — including the deputy at the bar and firefighters weeks later at an awards banquet — violated the victims’ families’ constitutional rights to control images of their loved ones’ remains. “Mrs. Bryant feels ill at the thought of strangers gawking at images of her deceased husband and child, and she lives in fear that she or her children will one day confront horrific images of their loved ones online,” Bryant’s lawyers wrote in a complaint. “Many social media users have claimed to have seen photos of the victims’ remains, and their accounts are plausible given the number of deputies who took photos, the ease with which cellphone pictures are transmitted and saved in cloud storage, and the Sheriff’s Department’s egregious failure to take reasonable steps to prevent dissemination of the photos.”
Surveillance video inside the bar showing Cruz and Gutierrez interacting and appearing to look at Cruz’s cellphone together played throughout his testimony. At times, it appeared that Cruz and Gutierrez were smiling and laughing after viewing the photos — but Gutierrez disputed that interpretation. “What type of human being would laugh at photos of other human beings like that?” he said. Bryant, sitting in the courtroom, repeatedly wiped away tears and, at times, held her head in her hands. At one point, while Gutierrez testified about the photos, she asked the judge for permission to leave the courtroom. She stood up and walked out, wiping tears from her eyes. The trial is expected to last at least another week, with 52 total witnesses slated to appear. Villanueva and Bryant are among those scheduled to testify.
The Los Angeles County Sheriff’s deputy who took close-up photos of dead bodies from the helicopter crash that killed NBA legend Kobe Bryant testified in federal court here Friday that he “didn’t do anything wrong” and was simply obeying an order to take photographs of the scene of the accident that day. The deputy, Douglas Johnson, said another sheriff’s deputy at his command post, Raul Versales, told him to do so. He said he took about 25 photos, including those of a contorted torso and a “close-up of a shin and a foot that had Black skin tone.”
This was Day 3 of Vanessa Bryant’s civil trial against Los Angeles County – and another difficult day for Bryant, who left the courtroom early again for the second straight day. Bryant and Chester sued the county in 2020, accusing county sheriff’s and fire department employees of taking and sharing photos of their deceased loved ones from the crash scene despite having no legitimate business reason for it. The case is being heard by a jury of five men and four women after one male juror dropped out after Day 2 for family-related reasons. On Friday, they heard testimony from three witnesses, including Johnson, the deputy Bryant’s team believes started the spread of the gruesome photos among sheriff’s personnel after taking them for dubious reasons.
Kobe Bryant’s widow, Vanessa, wept quietly and dabbed her eyes with tissue here Wednesday as she listened to her attorney describe a series of events that made the worst day of her life “unbearably worse” – to the point that she continues to live in fear and terror over it more than two years later. This was Day 1 of her civil trial against Los Angeles County, a legal battle more than two years in the making after nine died in a helicopter crash in January 2020, including Kobe Bryant, the beloved Los Angeles Lakers legend, and Gianna Bryant, their daughter. Vanessa Bryant sat in the federal courtroom wearing a black mask and black suit, next to her attorney, Luis Li, who got right to the point in front of the jury of 10.