A Los Angeles County sheriff’s deputy has admitted to taking and sharing photos of the horrific helicopter crash that claimed the lives of Kobe Bryant, his daughter Gianna Bryant, and seven others in Jan. 2020. But, Deputy Doug Johnson stands by his actions, stating that there was nothing wrong with him capturing images of the site or victims while appearing in court Friday (Aug. 12).
Bryant’s widow, Vanessa Bryant, and Chris Chester, who lost his wife and daughter in the crash, filed a multimillion-dollar lawsuit against the county, citing negligence and invasion of privacy over crash site photos that were shared. Hearings in the civil trial began Wednesday (Aug. 10).
According to CBS Los Angeles, Johnson said he “searched the site for about 15 minutes looking for survivors, moved a handful of hikers away, and taped off the area before snapping photos on his cell phone.” Johnson further claimed that he only snapped 25 images that were shared with his command post deputy and a county fire supervisor.
“I know I didn’t do anything wrong,” he said while on the stand. Bryant’s attorney, Luis Li, argued otherwise. “They were shared by deputies playing video games. They were shared repeatedly with people who had absolutely no reason to receive them,” said Li.
While the images have never surfaced online, Li said that Bryant lives in constant fear that she may be faced with the gruesome images. In an attempt to drive that point home, he said she “will be haunted by what they did forever.”
The NBA legend, his daughter,,and members of her basketball team were headed to a tournament on Jan. 26 when their helicopter crashed into a Calabasas hillside. Weeks after the fatal accident, the Los Angeles Lakers star’s wife opened up about her struggles to accept the unimaginable loss.
“I’ve been reluctant to put my feelings into words. My brain refuses to accept that both Kobe and Gigi are gone. I can’t process both at the same time. It’s like I’m trying to process Kobe being gone but my body refuses to accept my Gigi will never come back to me. It feels wrong. Why should I be able to wake up another day when my baby girl isn’t being able to have that opportunity?! I’m so mad. She had so much life to live,” wrote the mother of four.