Los Angeles policeman regrets sharing Kobe Bryant crash photos with bartender

Vanessa Bryant, Kobe's widow, is seeking damages from Los Angeles County over sharing of helicopter crash site pictures

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A police officer in Los Angeles, California, has expressed regret over sharing photos with a bartender of the site where Kobe Bryant and his daughter died in a helicopter crash in January 2020.

“I took it too far and did something I shouldn’t have,” Joey Cruz, a deputy in training at the time of the crash, told a Los Angeles federal jury.

Mr Cruz said he was “stressed and overwhelmed” while speaking to the bartender, whom he said is a close friend.

The officer's evidence came on the fourth day of a trial in which Vanessa Bryant, Bryant's widow, is seeking damages from Los Angeles County over the sharing of the crash site photos.

Los Angeles County claims the photos were part of the photography needed to conduct an investigation into the crash and that it had successfully prevented them from surfacing online.

The jury has heard that police deputies and fire department officials shared photos showing Bryant's remains, as well as those of his daughter, Gianna, and the seven others who were killed when the helicopter crashed in Calabasas, California, a community north of Los Angeles.

Deputy Rafael Mejia said he had shared the photos with Mr Cruz and another trainee. In a logged conversation between him and another deputy, he said that “not a single person was intact” at the crash site.

“Looking back now, I absolutely wouldn’t do it again,” Mr Mejia said. He added that they had wanted the photos for their depiction of the scene of the crash, not to see the victim's remains.

“We wanted to know what was up there because we weren’t there,” he said.

Brian Jordan, a former fire captain, had to walk out of the witness box several times while giving evidence on Monday during questions about whether he had taken photos of Bryant's remains. Mr Jordan resisted questions that took him back to the day of the crash, citing stress.

Lawyers for Ms Bryant said Mr Jordan was led around to take site photography of the scene of the crash. Mr Jordan, who retired in 2021, claimed he did not remember taking photographs because he had blocked that day from his memory.

Bloomberg contributed to this report

Updated: August 16, 2022, 3:54 PM
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