Deputy who took photos at Kobe Bryant crash site denies wrongdoing

A member involved in Vanessa BryantThe Los Angeles lawsuit against the Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department refuses to claim any wrongdoing. Chris Chester, who lost his wife and 13-year-old daughter in the accident, is also leading the lawsuit against the county. Deputy Doug Johnson testified in court on Friday about his role at the crash site. He admitted to taking at least 25 photos but says he doesn’t believe it “something bad.”

According CBS News, Doug was one of the first officers to arrive on the scene in January 2020. A total of nine people, including Kobe and Gianna Bryant, were killed in a hillside crash in Calabasas. The deputy said he walked through remote, bush-filled terrain for over an hour. After encountering the site, he searched for survivors for 15 minutes, even directing hikers away from the scene.

Deputy Doug also recorded the area before he began taking photos of the site using his personal phone. He testified that the documentation was a request from another deputy in the command post. Doug admitted to taking photos of Kobe’s remains, but claims he didn’t know the remains were Kobe. By TMZ, Doug also photographed a body in a ravine near the crash and the body of a long-haired black child believed to be Gianna.

CALABASAS, CA – JANUARY 26: The site of a helicopter crash that claimed the lives of former NBA great Kobe Bryant and his 13-year-old daughter Gianna Bryant is shown January 26, 2020 in Calabasas , in California. Nine people aboard the helicopter perished in the accident, according to published information. (Photo by TSM/Bauer-Griffin/GC Images)
Deputy says taking death photos on personal phone is ‘common practice’ among police

After taking the images, Doug said he sent all 25 photos to the command post deputy. He also sent the same footage to a county fire supervisor – who has not been identified, per CBS News. Attorneys for Vanessa and Chris say at least ten more people received the footage after Doug initially shared it. Additionally, some recipients reportedly shared the gruesome images in public spaces, including a California bar. Such incidents are what inspired the negligence and invasion of privacy lawsuit.

But, according to Doug’s testimony, he doesn’t believe he did anything out of the ordinary. The member claimed that it was “common practice” among law enforcement to share and receive photos of dead bodies. Therefore, Doug did not think the documentation or the existence of the images on his phone was inappropriate. Additionally, he testified that he used his personal phone “thousands of times” for photographic documentation at crime and accident scenes.

“I know I didn’t do anything wrong,” Doug testified. He later admitted to having no recollection of the police academy educating him on the rights of family members over footage of the death of loved ones.

Doug also claimed that he deleted all the pictures and the text thread with the deputy from the command post after arriving home the same evening after the accident. The deputy also said he lost the phone used for documentation in Las Vegas in 2021.

Deputy says taking death photos on personal phone is ‘common practice’ among police

Prior to Doug’s testimony, a woman who lost two loved ones in the crash testified that she saw an official publicly show photos of the crash site. Luella Weireter said former Los Angeles County Fire Captain Tony Imbrenda showed photos of the remains at an awards ceremony in February 2020. She claimed the former’s wife captain had invited her to see Kobe’s corpse on her husband’s phone. Additionally, Luella says he overheard another fire official say: “I just looked at Kobe’s burnt body and I’m about to eat.”

Vanessa Bryant was apparently not in the courtroom during Doug’s testimony. Earlier this week she reportedly broke down in tears as her lawyers explained how her husband’s photos “decapitated body” became public. The trial will resume on Monday with continued testimony.

Leave a Comment