Vanessa Bryant left the courtroom in tears Thursday after a bartender testified that a Los Angeles sheriff’s deputy showed him photos of her late NBA legend husband’s gory helicopter crash scene.
Victor Gutierrez testified that Dep. Joey Cruz showed him the disturbing footage – including severed body parts scattered across a Calabasas hill – while he was working at a bar in Norco, California, in January 2020.
Gutierrez commented on Vanessa Bryant’s federal lawsuit against the county on day two of the trial and was asked if photos of the remains appeared to belong to Kobe Bryant.
“I don’t know. I would say it was just parts,” he told the court, adding that it’s hard to tell who they belonged to based on the color of their skin.
“It was burned. I don’t know if that was the real color.”
Gutierrez said he saw several photos of gory remains, and when asked if any of them belonged to a young girl – possibly the couple’s 13-year-old daughter Gianna – Vanessa Bryant broke down in tears.
Her attorney Luis Li then asked the judge if they could leave the courtroom, to which the judge replied, “You don’t have to ask” — and Bryant walked out sobbing.
Her attorneys then played footage from inside the bar of Cruz looking at his phone, showing it to the bartender, and laughing.
When asked if Cruz showed him pictures of the basketball great’s torso, Gutierrez replied, “I don’t remember.”
Gutierrez testified that he has known Cruz for a number of years, considers him a friend and doesn’t think he’s laughing at what remains of the Lakers legend.
“What kind of person would laugh at that … you would have to be crazy to do that,” he said.
Rafael Mendez Jr. — a bar customer who filed a report to the LA County Sheriff’s Department saying Cruz showed Gutierrez the photos — later testified that he didn’t actually see the deputy as he saw the pictures showed.
He said he went to the bar on January 28, 2020 and heard Gutierrez talk about how Cruz showed the pictures.
Mendez said he filed a complaint with the Sheriff’s Department after leaving the bar. Shortly thereafter he was greeted by Capt. Jorge Valdez contacted.
Almost a month later, Mendez said he read an article about his complaint, which frustrated him because Valdez had assured him his name would remain anonymous.
Mendez said he recalled Valdez on March 1, 2020, expressing “my disdain and frustration” at the apparent leak.
The captain reportedly told him, “You know you don’t have to talk to them if you don’t want to, right?” referring to reporters, Mendez testified.
Bryant’s attorneys then played a clip of LA County Sheriff Alex Villanueva, Valdez and other officials being interviewed by a reporter on February 26, 2020.
In that clip, the reporter asked if they were aware of a complaint filed with their office about first responders and deputies who shared photos taken at the crash site, and Valdez said he was unaware of any such complaint.
“Liar,” Mendez said shortly after hearing the recording in court. “He lies that he didn’t know about the complaint. He was the first person I spoke to regarding my complaint.”
https://nypost.com/2022/08/11/vanessa-bryant-cries-after-witness-says-he-was-shown-kobe-crash-photos/ Vanessa Bryant cries after witness says he was shown photos of Kobe crashes