LOS ANGELES (CN) — A Los Angeles County fire captain and three sheriff’s deputies on Monday defended their actions on the day of the helicopter crash that killed LA Lakers legend Kobe Bryant, his daughter Gianna and seven other people. Taken together, they presented a confusing and confusing portrait of the day’s events and the role cellphone cameras play at crash sites.

Lawyers for Kobe Bryant’s widow, Vanessa Bryant and Christopher Chester, who are suing Los Angeles County over crash site photographs of the remains of their family members, have argued that some first responders acted as souvenir hunters, taking and sharing gruesome photos for their own amusement or as a hobby. Much of their case rests on hostile or semi-hostile witnesses, like Deputy Doug Johnson, who testified last week.

Monday’s testimony saw more of the same. In the morning, former fire captain Brian Jordan testified that he was “ordered” to take photos of the crash site by an assistant fire chief. Jordan said he didn’t remember what he took pictures of, or whether his photographs were human remains.

“I have memory problems,” he said, explaining that he had been traumatized by what he had seen that day. “This is going to haunt me forever,” he said, before abruptly apologizing from the witness stand in order to take a short break – not for the first or last time. He suggested that the trauma he suffered led to his resignation from the fire service and blocked out much of what he saw that day.

“I have these images in my head all the time,” he said, later adding, “It’s hard for me to process them.”

Last week, Deputy Johnson testified that he escorted Jordan to the crash site and watched Jordan take pictures of human remains. Jordan said he didn’t remember.

Photos taken by Jordan and Johnson have been shared with other sheriffs and firefighters. Some were eventually shown to the public. The photos were never released, but Bryant and Chester say they live with the fear that the gory footage will one day be widely publicized.

Lawyers for the plaintiff described the crash site photos as horrifying close-ups of mutilated body parts, torsos, limbs and headless organs scattered around. But on Monday, Deputy Raul Versales, to whom Doug Johnson sent the crash site photos, described them differently, as wider shots of the scene that focused more on the helicopter wreckage.

“From what I remember, none were close-ups of body parts,” Versales said. The 30 photos he received, he said, “were generalized photos” of the burnt hill and the debris. Although he did not ask for the photographs, he said they were helpful and he passed them on to investigators. In a deposition, Versales said he didn’t need the photos. But on Monday, he said he had changed his mind.

“Later, after reflection, I was a link for the deputies,” he said. “I needed to pass them on.”

Craig Lavoie, an attorney for Vanessa Bryant, suggested Versales had been coached by county attorneys and asked how many times he had met with them. “Less than five,” replied Versales.

Versales sent the photos to four MPs, including Rafael Mejia, who also said the focus of the photographs was the accident and not the human remains.

“I don’t remember seeing any body parts in the photos,” Mejia said. “I think I would have remembered that.”

Mejia’s testimony was apparently contradicted by a message he sent on Facebook Messenger to a friend of his, another sheriff’s deputy. When asked if he had seen the remains of Kobe Bryant, Mejia replied: “Not a single person was intact. Pieces only. Torsos, no limbs or [heads].” Mejia was not asked to respond to the apparent contradiction.

In a deposition, Mejia said there was no reason for him and other MPs to have the photos, adding that “curiosity got the better of us – it’s in our nature as MPs.” Asked to explain this statement, Mejia said, “We wanted to know what was up there; it wasn’t about the bodies. It was about the scene.”

Mejia shared the photos with two of his interns, assistants Ruby Cable and Joey Cruz, who would later show the photos to a bartender and a few other patrons at a bar in Norwalk, sparking the scandal. Cruz’s description of the photos was different from that of his colleagues.

“One of the photos had a torso,” Cruz testified Monday. “One had a leg. The other had a hand.” But, he said, “None of the photos were close-ups of body parts.” He said the photographs centered on the crash site and none had body parts as the “main focus”. While none of the photos had any characteristics that could be used to identify Bryant or any of the other victims, he said “some of the photos had scattered body parts”, which you could see without “zooming in” on images.

When asked if there was a legitimate reason the intern received the photos, Cruz replied, “Looking back today, no.” He added: “At the time, I was a trainee, [Mejia] was a seasoned MP. I thought it was strictly for business.”

When asked to explain why Cruz showed the photos to the bartender, his friend Victor Guitierez, he replied, “I wasn’t showing the photos to show him body parts. I was talking to a friend, I was was talking.” He added: “I went too far. I was stressed and overwhelmed.”

Last week, Guitierez said Cruz pointed to one of the photos and identified it as Kobe Bryant’s torso.

Security camera footage from that night appears to show Cruz showing his photo to Guitierrez. In the footage, Gutierrez first appears to wince; later he laughs.

“We never laughed at the pictures,” Guitierrez said. “I am 100% sure. You would have to be a psychopath to do that. »

As to why Cruz showed him the photos, Gutierrez said, “I think he had to get them out of his system.”

Cruz’s testimony is scheduled to continue Tuesday morning.

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