Los ANGELES Los Angeles Vanessa Bryant sobbed and excused herself from a federal courtroom on Thursday, as a bartender in a Mexican restaurant testified she was shown body parts of the crash of a helicopter in January of 2020, which killed nine people, among them her daughter Gianna and husband Kobe Kobe, who is an NBA legend.
Bryant was dismissed from the courtroom after the former bartender reminisced about the incident in which the Los Angeles County Sheriff’s deputy trainee visited at his establishment and showed him photographs from the scene of the crash just two days following the crash.
They were horrifying.
“Did you see a human torso in the photo that you understood to be Kobe Bryant?” was the question asked by one of Bryant’s attorneys Craig Jennings Lavoie.
“Yes,” replied the former bartender Victor Gutierrez.
It was Day 2 in Bryant’s civil court trial against Los Angeles County – a day that delves into detailed details of the scene of the crash and included evidence from 5 witnesses one of which was the former bartender who worked in Norwalk, California.
Gutierrez stated that the deputy trainer, Joey Cruz, asked him at the bar the night before whether he would like to see Kobe Bryant’s corpse.
“Did you also see what appeared to be a girl in any of the photos?” Lavoie inquired.
“They were just parts,” Gutierrez stated. “I don’t know if they were men or women.”
Bryant was crying, got up, went out and was not back until Thursday. She filed a lawsuit against the county in 2012 in which she accused county sheriff’s officers and firefighters of sharing pictures of her loved relatives from the scene of the crash even though there was no justification from the government for doing this. She will be joined in the trial in the case by the defendant Chris Chester, who lost his daughter and wife in the same accident and sued the county over the exact motives.
They are both before a jury comprised of five women and six men that will be charged with determining if the privacy of their loved ones was violated due to the county’s behavior despite the fact that the county claims that the images were removed shortly after the incident and were never published on the internet.
After Wednesday’s dramatic opening statement and dramatic closing statements, Thursday’s events provided the jury with a lot to think about:
Jurors were shown a variety of video surveillance footage of the bars in Norwalk that night Cruz went to the bar. Cruz is scheduled to appear in court next week, however, Gutierrez presented his account of their conversation that night on Thursday.
It was a video which didn’t contain any audio recordings of the two The video showed them watching Cruz’s phone and Gutierrez responding with laughter. After they looked at Cruz’s mobile it also showed Gutierrez moving toward the other patrons in the restaurant, and making gestures towards his neck, throat and torso, while speaking to them.
Lavoie said he was talking about the state of the bodies he observed in the photographs from Cruz.
However, Gutierrez often admitted that he didn’t recall what he had spoken that night to various people. One of the things that he claimed he could remember was that he did not laugh over the pictures.
“You gotta be psycho to do that,” Cruz stated. Instead, he suggested that the laughing in the video may be in response to something else he had seen on Cruz’s smartphone after having looked through the images of the crash including an unrelated humorous video.
More: Day 1 of the trial for Vanessa Bryant’s Trial, testimony, and tears. details on the deadly crash
After Gutierrez admitted to the testimony, a second customer at the restaurant was the one to take the stand. The name of the man was Ralph Mendez Jr., an investor in real estate who lodged a complaint with the sheriff’s office after Gutierrez informed guests sitting at the table of photos that were shown by Cruz.
The complaint ultimately resulted in this court trial.
The following day, Mendez described his reaction to the things Gutierrez had told him the previous night.
“I was in disbelief of everything I heard,” Mendez told reporters. Mendez who further declared it a “sense of betrayal” by Cruz who is a police officer who is charged to protect the neighbourhood. Mendez made his complaint public on the sheriff’s website later in the night, from the driveway of his house.
In the subject phrase “Kobe,” the complaint stated, “There was a deputy at Baja California Bar and Grill in Norwalk showing pictures of his decapitated body.”
Mendez later received a call about the matter from Sheriff’s Chief Jorge Valdez. However, when a Los Angeles Times reporter asked Valdez about the complaint prior to when it was made public in February 2020 Valdez claimed he was unaware of the complaint.
The audio of the interview was played in the courtroom for the jury.
“I’m unaware of any complaint,” Valdez stated in an audio interview from February 2020.
When asked about his reaction at a court hearing on Thursday Mendez said Valdez a lie.
“He’s lying,” said Mendez.
The day before, Bryant stayed out of the courtroom for testimony by the county captain coroner’s department, Emily Tauscher.
Contrary to the sheriff’s or fire department, the coroner’s office isn’t accused of stealing images from the scene of the crash. It did, however, contain more than 1,000 photos in its official duties and led Tauscher to testify Thursday, where she presented images of the horrific state of the victims following the speedy crash.
Her testimony revealed a gruesome irony in the case. Bryant’s and Chester’s lawyers affirm that their clients are terrified of these horrific death images appearing again one day, and are haunted by the idea of the possibility of that. They are also requesting shocking information from witnesses in open court regarding the pictures as well as the condition of the bodies found at the site of the crash – to the point where Bryant was unable to enter the courtroom two times because of the issue.
The move is done for some reason, according to Bryant’s lawyer, Luis Li.
“Because (county) defendants deny that photos taken and shared by their personnel depicted the remains of plaintiffs’ loved ones, and because they deleted those photos or failed to preserve them, plaintiffs must present witness testimony about what defendants’ photos depicted,” Li said in a court filing Wednesday.