The civil trial concerning whether photos were shared after the 2020 helicopter crash, which took the lives of Lakers legend Kobe Bryant, his daughter Gianna and seven others, has already provided us with heartbreaking testimony. On the second day, a witness alleged a Los Angeles County firefighter shared the horrific photos during the cocktail hour at an awards ceremony, CNN reports.
Luella Weireter, a former paramedic and wife of a Los Angeles firefighter, stated in her testimony that L.A. fire captain Tony Imbrenda shared photos of Bryant’s remains and other images from the crash site.
After a small group of people at her table convened to look at images on a cell phone, in what Weireter characterized as being like a party trick, she testified about seeing one firefighter break away from the group, saying, “I can’t believe I just looked at Kobe’s burnt up body, and now I’m about to eat.”
Weireter also stated that Imbrenda’s wife invited her to check out the photos. “She was like, excited, trying to get us to come and look at them,” Weireter told the courtroom. “She said it multiple times.” While this verbal exchange occurred, Weireter added that she overheard another Los Angeles County Fire Captain make a joke about the images.
Two weeks after the ceremony transpired, Weireter drove to a county fire station in Malibu and filed an official complaint with a battalion chief. L.A. County Fire Chief Anthony Marrone called her to follow up the same day.
Los Angeles Sheriff’s Department Deputy Doug Johnson then testified that he was instructed to document “the entire scene,” including photos of human remains. He said he took about 25 pictures at the site on his personal cell phone because he was not issued a work phone. Johnson claimed it was “common practice to text close-up photos of dead bodies to other deputies, and he had received numerous similar photos throughout his career without ever being disciplined.”
“I know I didn’t do anything wrong,” he testified, adding that he does not regret what he did and wouldn’t have done anything differently.