LOS ANGELES (CNS) – A retired Los Angeles County Fire Department captain accused of taking multiple photos of human remains at the scene of the helicopter crash that killed Kobe Bryant and eight others , then of having sent the images to at least one other employee of the service is expected to be called to the stand on Monday in the federal civil lawsuit of a privacy invasion lawsuit brought by the widow of the Lakers star and another family.

Retired Captain Brian Jordan has been slammed by the Los Angeles County Fire Department after determining that his photographs of the crash scene had “no legitimate business purpose” and “only served ‘to appeal to lower instincts and desires for what amounted to visual gossip,'” according to court records.

Before he could be fired from his job, Jordan took early retirement, citing his mental health, according to court records. Steven Haney, Jordan’s attorney, wrote in a filing that his client was “just following orders” when he took the photos at the scene of the Jan. 26, 2020 crash.

Vanessa Bryant and Irvine financial adviser Chris Chester are suing the county for millions of unspecified dollars for negligence and invasion of privacy over the photos. Her husband and 13-year-old daughter Gianna, along with Chester’s wife Sarah and 13-year-old daughter Payton, were among the nine people killed in the crash.

Plaintiffs allege that Los Angeles County first responders took gruesome photos of human remains at the remote Calabasas crash site for their own amusement as “souvenirs” and shared them with other members of the law enforcement and members of the public.

The county maintains that any footage taken by its sheriff’s deputies and firefighters was promptly destroyed, no longer exists in any form, and never entered the public domain.

Jurors in the trial – which began August 10 in federal court in Los Angeles – heard on Friday from a sheriff’s deputy who was among the first to arrive at the scene of the crash and testified that he took 25 photos on his mobile phone, a third which contained close-up images of body parts and sent the images to others.

Deputy Doug Johnson said he walked for more than an hour over isolated, brush-filled terrain to get to the site, and recorded the area before taking photos to ‘document’ the devastation at the request of a deputy at the command post.

Bryant and Chester say they suffer emotional distress over the possibility that photos of the shattered bodies of their family members will one day appear on the internet because, as one of their attorneys told the jury, “digital lives forever “.

When questioned by a lawyer for Bryant, Johnson said he texted the 25 photos to the command post deputy and AirDropped them to a county fire supervisor, who was never identified.

As for the phone itself, he says he lost it the following year in Las Vegas.

Plaintiffs’ attorneys argue that after Johnson sent the photos, the images spread to at least 10 other people, some of whom posted them for members of the public.

Johnson testified that it never occurred to him that having pictures of the death on his personal cellphone was inappropriate. He said it was “common practice” among law enforcement to share and receive images of dead bodies.

The deputy told the downtown Los Angeles jury that he had used his phone at crime and accident scenes to take photos “thousands of times”.

In the case of the helicopter crash, Johnson said, he deleted all the photos he had taken, as well as a text thread with the command post deputy, shortly after returning to home that night.

‘I know I didn’t do anything wrong,’ he said on the stand, and admitted he didn’t recall ever learning at the academy that family members had rights regarding images of the death of loved ones.

Vanessa Bryant left the courtroom in tears as testimony turned to descriptions of catastrophic injuries suffered by the victims.

His lawsuit was consolidated for trial with that of Chester, which makes many of the same allegations.

Also on Friday, a Los Angeles woman who lost several family members in the crash said that while attending the Golden Mike Awards gala at the Hilton Los Angeles/Universal City in February 2020, she saw the Former Los Angeles County Fire Captain Tony Imbrenda viewing images of remains on his phone.

In tearful testimony, Luella Weireter, a firefighter’s wife, said she was still grieving when she attended the banquet and was shocked when Imbrenda’s wife invited her to look at the photos of Kobe’s corpse on the fire captain’s phone.

Days later, she filed a formal complaint, the second private citizen to submit information to the county about law enforcement posting photos of the crash scene to members of the public.

Along with relatives of Chester and Bryant, the crash killed 14-year-old Alyssa Altobelli; Keri Altobelli, 46; John Altobelli, 56; Christina Mauser, 38; and pilot Ara Zobayan, 50.

The Altobelli and Mauser families have settled their invasion of privacy and negligence lawsuits against the county for $1.25 million each. They also accused county first responders of inappropriately sharing photos of their deceased loved ones.

Last year, Bryant and others settled a lawsuit against Island Express Helicopters Inc., the company that operated the Sikorsky helicopter; its owner, Island Express Holding Corp.; the estate of the pilot, who died in the accident; and another company. The terms remain confidential.

According to the National Transportation Safety Board, Zobayan likely had an episode of “spatial disorientation” and appeared to go against federal guidelines while flying in fog.


Faces of the Valley: Art mimics the life of the Lower Burrell graphic designer, who received an early boost in his father's field


Two studio screens provide exceptional color consistency [Setups]

Check Also