Los Angeles deputy says he doesn’t regret taking pictures of remains in Kobe Bryant crash

On Friday, the deputy who captured numerous up-close images of the human remains resulting from the helicopter crash that tragically claimed the lives of Kobe Bryant, an NBA icon, and his daughter Gianna, testified. Surprisingly, one of the individuals affected by the incident was unaware of Kobe Bryant’s legendary status, and expressed no remorse for taking the photographs.

Two firefighters in a high-ranking position received 25 pictures of the California crash site from him, whom he trusted and sent a text message to. Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Deputy Doug Johnson, who testified on the third day of Vanessa Bryant’s federal lawsuit against the county, provided this information.

Johnson said that they were taken to the command post at the behest of Raul Dept., Who was at the bottom of the Calabasas hill when the chopper slammed into it. He also mentioned that close-up pictures of his body parts were shown in court, which was his third testimony.

Bryant Lawyers claim that Johnson’s argument was refuted when Versales presented a recording stating, “None of us at the command post, including me, asked for photographs.” They allege that employees took “photos as mementos.”

The Calabasas crash site was littered with body parts, Doug Johnson testified.
The Calabasas crash site was littered with body parts, Doug Johnson testified.

Johnson had informed him that he captured 100 photographs, which contradicted the testimony of the deputy, David Katz, from the Reserve Team & Rescue Search Malibu. Additionally, the sworn statement of the deputy also contradicted the aforementioned testimony.

Johnson testified that he and another deputy made their way through the rugged landscape of the hillside and arrived at the wreckage site around 11:30 a.M. On January 26, 2020, discovering it scattered with dismembered body parts.

He testified that he spoke to two individuals whom he believed were officials from Los Angeles County Fire when he arrived. Johnson informed them that one of his tasks was to capture photographs of the entire incident.

Los Angeles Sheriff’s Deputy Douglas Johnson
Los Angeles Sheriff’s Deputy Douglas Johnson said about a third of his pictures were close-up shots of body parts.

When asked if he interpreted that to mean that he was instructed to take close-ups of body parts, Johnson replied, “Yes, sir.”.

The photographs were assumed to be of the former 41-year-old NBA athlete. The officer attested that he captured images of a black man’s severed arm and hand, a detailed view of a lower leg, a dark-skinned foot, and a body located close to the helicopter.

“I don’t recall witnessing the head of the victim,” Johnson stated. “I recall [it possessing] a torso and wearing pants.”

Johnson said he took close-up shots of Kobe Bryant and his daughter Gianna
Johnson said he took close-up shots of Kobe Bryant and his daughter Gianna’s remains after the crash, claiming he did not regret it.
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Presumably Gianna, a 13-year-old child with long dark hair and dark complexion, was believed to be among the individuals. Johnson mentioned that he additionally captured detailed photographs of corpses located in a ravine.

Based on the witness statement, he forwarded the gruesome images to Capt. Brian Johnson and another firefighter in uniform whom he believed to be a captain. He informed the court that the identity of that individual remained unknown.

At one point, Eric Tuttle, one of Vanessa’s lawyers, questioned whether you ever considered that having close-ups of human remains on your personal cell phone is not suitable.

Johnson responded, “No, sir,” and reiterated his response when questioned about any potential remorse regarding the photographs or if he would have approached the situation differently.

A sketch artist depicted the courtroom scene Friday.
Johnson told the court he would not have done anything differently.
Mona Shafer Edwards / BACKGRID

During cross-examination, Jennifer Mira Hashmall, the defense attorney representing the LA County, county sheriffs, and the county fire department, inquired of Johnson whether he was aware of the individuals implicated in the accident.

“When you captured the images, were you aware that it was Kobe Bryant who was soaring through the sky?”

“No, madam,” the deputy responded.

Deputy Katz filed a grievance, but Johnson claimed that he was never subjected to any disciplinary action regarding it. According to Johnson, he was questioned on two occasions and an internal inquiry was carried out.

“Vanessa’s lawyers have alleged that county officials inappropriately shared private pictures, which caused severe emotional distress and further compounded the trauma of losing Kobe and Gianna.”

The site of a helicopter crash that claimed the lives of Kobe Bryant and his daughter Gianna is shown in Calabasas.
The site of a helicopter crash that claimed the lives of Kobe Bryant and his daughter Gianna is shown in Calabasas.
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On Thursday, as the widow wept, a deputy showed him photographs of Kobe’s remains while he was working as a bartender.

A retired police officer testified earlier on Friday that officers in LA have a tradition of maintaining “ghoul books” filled with explicit photographs of deceased celebrities and other prominent individuals, solely for their entertainment.

Kobe, Gianna, and seven additional individuals — Christina Mauser, Payton and Sarah Chester, John, Keri, and Alyssa Altobelli, as well as pilot Ara Zobayan — tragically lost their lives when Bryant’s helicopter crashed into a hillside during thick fog.

The team had been en route to a youth basketball match in Thousand Oaks.