A retired Los Angeles County Fire Department captain on Monday told a jury that he was ordered to snap photos of the gory scene where a helicopter carrying Kobe Bryant, his daughter and seven others crashed in 2020.
Brian Jordan testified at trial in the federal invasion-of-privacy lawsuit brought by the NBA legend’s widow, Vanessa Bryant, saying he remembers high-ranking officials instructing him to take pictures of the Calabasas, Ca., crash site, TMZ reported.
“I followed many instructions that day but was told ‘take pictures, take pictures, take pictures,” Jordan told the court.
The ex-fire captain, however, said he couldn’t actually recall being at the scene of the wreck, blaming memory loss, according to the report.
Jordan retired in 2021, citing, in part, mental anguish from the Bryant accident.
He left the courtroom multiple times during Monday’s proceedings, notably after being hit with specific questions, TMZ said.
The first of three times he got up from the witness stand came after Vanessa Bryant’s lawyer asked him if he took photos of Kobe Bryant’s remains, according to Law and Crime.
“I’m sorry, your honor, I just had an image in my head that is not pleasant,” Jordan reportedly told the federal judge presiding.
At one point, Jordan turned to the judge and said, “I don’t want to hear this drama,” according to TMZ.
Asked if any of the photos he took were of body parts, he replied, “Thank you, now I see intestines in my head.”
Jordan claimed that he’s the victim of false allegations and said he had no idea who the couple’s daughter, Gianna Bryant, was when asked if he took photos of her remains, Law and Crime reported.
“I’m here because of false allegations, so please refrain from [taking] my brain back to that crash,” he reportedly said.
Jordan didn’t deny sending the photos to another captain, who then allegedly shared the photos at a cocktail hour, according to Law and Crime.
A deputy for the LA Sheriff’s Department, Raul Versales, later testified that while he didn’t make it to the crash scene, he received about 30 photos from one of his colleagues, Doug Johnson.
None of the photos were of close-ups of body parts, Versales said, but an arm might have been seen in the distance, TMZ reported. An internal investigation determined there were violations of his cellphone use, though he never faced discipline, the outlet said.
Two other sheriff deputies testified they had at least some regret from sharing the photos, according to Bloomberg.
Deputy Joey Cruz, a trainee at the time of the crash, admitted he showed photos of the accident scene to a bartender, but that he never identified Kobe Bryant as one of the victims, the outlet reported.
“I took it too far and did something I shouldn’t have,” he reportedly said.
Bloomberg also reported another member of the department, Rafael Mejia, said he shared the photos with two trainees, including Cruz. Mejia said in court sent about 20 pics to Versales after he was sent them, according to TMZ.
“Looking back now, I absolutely wouldn’t do it again,” Mejia said, according to Bloomberg.
He claimed they wanted the photos to know what the scene was like and not to see the victims’ remains, Bloomberg reported.
Lakers star Bryant, his 13-year-old daughter Gianna and seven others including the pilot died in the fiery Calabasas crash on Jan. 26, 2020.
Vanessa Bryant filed suit against LA County after graphic photos of the crash scene were allegedly passed around by first responders.