Vanessa Bryant had to leave the courtroom on Thursday when a former bartender detailed the images a sheriff’s deputy trainee showed him that featured the remains of Kobe Bryant, per a report from USA Today. Vanessa Bryant is suing Los Angeles County, alleging that the sheriff and fire department took personal photos of the helicopter crash that killed her husband, daughter, and seven others in January of 2020.
Victor Gutierrez, a former bartender at Baja California Bar and Grill in Norwalk, Calif., took the stand to give his account of a deputy trainee, Joey Cruz, sharing images of the crash — which showed a deceased Kobe Bryant — with those in the bar (Warning: the quotes contain graphic descriptions of the photos in question.)
Gutierrez said that Cruz showed him images of a human torso that he “understood to be Kobe Bryant.” Asked whether he saw any photos of a young girl that night, Gutierrez said the bodies in the pictures could not be identified.
“They were just parts,” Gutierrez said, via USA Today. “I don’t know if they were men or women.”
During the court proceedings, video was played that showed Gutierrez and Cruz looking at the latter’s phone. At one point, Gutierrez reacted by laughing at something he saw on the phone.
Gutierrez denied laughing at the images of the crash, saying someone would be “psycho” to do that. Gutierrez suggested that he was laughing at another image or video on Cruz’s phone.
The video also captured Gutierrez going around to other people in the bar and gesturing to his head, throat and torso.
One of the patrons in the bar that night, Ralph Mendez Jr., also took the stand during the hearing on Thursday. Mendez Jr. filed a complaint to the sheriff’s department after Gutierrez described to him what was on Cruz’s phone.
“I was in disbelief of everything I heard,” he said while testifying. He also stated that he felt a “sense of betrayal” that someone in law enforcement would share such sensitive images with the public.
Los Angeles Lakers general manager Rob Pelinka took the stand for a second time after testifying on Wednesday, and he made it very clear that he wants the images of the crash completely scrubbed from the public eye.
“I would want them destroyed and removed from the universe,” Pelinka said.
Los Angeles County has stated that the photos no longer exist because they were deleted to keep them from reaching a wider public audience.