On Thursday, witnesses began testifying in Bryant’s lawsuit against Los Angeles County after being shown images of crash victims’ “body parts.”
On the second day of her trial against Los Angeles County, Vanessa Bryant left the courtroom because a witness claimed that a deputy trainee from the department had exchanged graphic images from the collision that claimed the lives of her daughter Gianna and her husband Kobe Bryant.
According to a USA Today article, Bryant, 40, started crying during one witness’ statement before leaving the room. That day, she didn’t come back.
Following reports that eight L.A. County Sheriff’s Department deputies allegedly took graphic photos of the victims and shared them with unauthorized people, Bryant and Chris Chester, a father who lost his wife and daughter in the 2020 helicopter crash, are suing L.A. County for damages for emotional distress and mental anguish.
On Thursday, several witnesses joined the witness stand, including former bartender Victor Gutierrez who claimed Cruz had shown him the pictures. Ralph Mendez Jr., a patron of the bar who claimed to have witnessed the exchange and to have formally complained to the sheriff’s office, also testified before the jury.
On Thursday, Gutierrez testified in court that Joey Cruz, a deputy trainee, approached him while he was working as a bartender immediately after the Jan. 26, 2020 collision and asked if he would want to see a picture of the victims’ bodies.
A lawyer representing Bryant specifically questioned Gutierrez, asking him if he saw a human body in the image that he believed to be Kobe Bryant. Cruz did, according to Gutierrez, show him the body portion.
Why are Kobe Bryant's autopsy sketches on my tl??? Vanessa Bryant sued the officials who took pictures with Kobe's body after the crash. What makes y'all think it is okay to share the autopsy sketches.
— Khush (taylor's version) (@notsokhushh) August 15, 2022
Cruz allegedly showed Gutierrez pictures of body parts that were not gender- nor age-specific, according to Gutierrez. Did you notice any of the images that contained what appeared to be a girl as well? Bryant’s lawyer enquired. In response, Gutierrez “They were only components… I’m not sure if they were male or female.”
Additionally, a video of Cruz and Gutierrez allegedly laughing and looking at Cruz’s phone while inside the bar was displayed to the jury. Gutierrez is then seen pointing to his head, torso, and throat, which Bryant’s lawyer felt was a reference to the victims’ physical state. According to USA Today, Gutierrez rejected the notion, stating in front of the jury, “You gotta be psycho to do it.”
While testifying, Gutierrez insisted that he was not amusing himself by looking at pictures of the victims. Mendez, the patron who claimed to have seen the exchange and reported it to the sheriff’s office, however, told the jury that he was “in disbelief of everything” he had heard from Cruz and Gutierrez that evening.
Emily Tauscher, a captain with the county coroner’s office, testified about the condition of the crash victims’ bodies before Gutierrez took the stand. According to USA Today, Bryant left the courtroom during Tauscher’s testimony because, according to her attorney, she always worries that the pictures would be made public.
Following the conclusion of jury selection, the trial started on Wednesday, according to several publications. Bryant sued Los Angeles County in September 2021, claiming emotional distress after finding that emergency personnel had released collision photographs online.
In December 2021, Los Angeles County attempted to have her lawsuit dismissed, but a judge rejected their motion. Bryant stated in her declaration that she has experienced “tremendous agony and distress.”
Part of Bryant’s statement was, “It infuriates me that the people I trusted to safeguard my husband and daughter’s dignity misused their positions to get souvenirs of their deaths, as though having images of their remains makes them important.”
She stated, “I feel ill at the idea that deputies and firefighters have looked at pictures of my husband and child’s bodies without a reason.” “Seeing pics of my husband’s and daughter’s bodies being laughed at while being displayed at a bar and an awards dinner also makes me feel a great sense of anguish and rage. Given how many individuals possessed the pictures, I’m sure this wasn’t the only time they were displayed.”
- [Update] Celebrities Opinions on the Johnny vs. Amber Case May Be Shifting Due to New Evidence
- After The Murders Of Men In Albuquerque, The Muslim Community Expresses Its Fear