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Deputy who allegedly shared Kobe Bryant crash photos accused of kneeling on inmate’s head

The cop who allegedly took and shared photos of Kobe Bryant’s body after his fatal helicopter crash also stands accused of kneeling on an inmate’s head for 3 minutes.

Video of the alleged inmate abuse is now at the center of the legal battle involving Bryant’s widow Vanessa’s lawsuit against LA County.

Vanessa Bryant claims in her suit that Los Angeles Sheriff’s Deputy Douglas Johnson helped violate the privacy of her late husband and daughter Gianna when county workers shared pictures of their remains.

The NBA legend and Gianna, 13, died Jan. 26, 2020, in a helicopter crash along with six other passengers and a pilot.

Johnson is now facing more scrutiny over the release of video leaked to Knock LA, which shows him kneeling on the head of inmate Enzo Escalate, who was handcuffed at the time.

Lawyers for the county are trying to prevent the video from being introduced as evidence when Vanessa Bryant’s lawsuit heads to trial as scheduled in late July, claiming it’s irrelevant, according to USA Today. 

“The March 2021 County jail incident has nothing to do with this case, which centers on allegations that the County violated Plaintiff’s rights by taking and sharing photos of the January 26, 2020 helicopter crash,” the county said in court docs reviewed by the paper. 

Deputy Douglas Johnson stands accused of kneeling on an inmate’s head for 3 minutes.
Twitter/@KnockDotLA
Footage of Deputy Douglas Johnson in an altercation with Enzo Escalante.
According to the Los Angeles Times, the sheriff’s office tried to cover up Johnson’s treatment of the inmate.
Twitter/@KnockDotLA
Footage of Deputy Douglas Johnson kneeling on the head of Enzo Escalante.
Johnson is now facing more scrutiny over the release of video leaked to Knock LA, which appears to show him kneeling on the head of inmate Enzo Escalate.
Twitter/@KnockDotLA

According to the Los Angeles Times, the sheriff’s office tried to cover up Johnson’s treatment of Escalante, “given its nature and its similarities to widely publicized George Floyd use of force.

“The only reason Plaintiff would seek to elicit testimony about Deputy Johnson’s altercation with the inmate and LASD’s response is to impugn Deputy Johnson’s and Sheriff [Alex] Villanueva’s character,” the county claimed in court documents, referring to a second law-enforcement official tied to the case. “This is improper.”

Vanessa Bryant has said she lives “in fear” that pictures of her dead husband and daughter will “go viral,” according to a court papers.

Kobe Bryant helicopter crash scene
Koby Bryant and his daughter Gianna, 13, died Jan. 26, 2020, in a helicopter crash along with six other passengers and a pilot.
David McNew/Getty Images
An investigator works at the scene of the helicopter crash that killed former NBA star Kobe Bryant and his 13-year-old daughter Gianna on January 27, 2020.
An investigator works at the scene of the helicopter crash that killed former NBA star Kobe Bryant and his 13-year-old daughter Gianna on January 27, 2020.
James Anderson/National Transportation Safety Board via Getty Images
Kobe Bryant helicopter crash scene
Vanessa Bryant has said she lives “in fear” that pictures of her dead husband and daughter will “go viral,” according to a court papers.
Kobe Bryant
Vanessa Bryant claims in her suit that Los Angeles Sheriff’s Deputy Douglas Johnson helped violate the privacy of her late husband and daughter.
Lisa Blumenfeld/Getty Images

“The gratuitous sharing continued in the following days and weeks and included such outrageous conduct as flaunting the photos in a bar while pantomiming dismemberment, showing off the photos over cocktails at an awards gala, and casually texting the photos to a group chat of video-game buddies while playing Call of Duty,” her lawyers have said in previous court papers. 



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