A Los Angeles police officer gave gruesome new details about Kobe Bryant’s helicopter crash site during testimony Thursday— including that there were “pieces of flesh hanging from trees.”
Deputy David Katz, of the Los Angeles Sheriff’s Department, recalled the harrowing accident he responded to in January 2020 during the second day of testimony in Bryant’s widow Vanessa’s federal lawsuit against the county.
“At one point, I was standing over two bodies,” Katz told the jury, adding that a larger corpse belonged to the late NBA legend.
“[There were] body parts, spread limbs, pieces of flesh hanging from trees, bushes… that were mixed with various helicopter parts. And blood in various places,” he testified.
Katz said he got a radio message from a supervisor ordering him not to take any photos of the accident while heading up a hill to respond to the scene in Calabasas.
When he arrived, a few minutes after being called, Katz said Deputy Douglas Johnson told him that he had canvassed the massive site— and had “already taken over 100 photos” of the remains.
Katz testified that he relayed the message not to take any photos to Johnson but the other cop replied that he was instructed by someone at a nearby command post to snap the shots.
Katz took the stand during Vanessa Bryant’s federal invasion-of-privacy lawsuit against Los Angeles County, which claims that deputies and fire personnel shared photos of the former Laker and the couple’s 13-year-old daughter’s disfigured corpses at the crash scene.
When asked about the Sheriff’s Department’s policies regarding picture-taking at incidents, Katz said he doesn’t recall receiving any training about what to do when an image has been shared with him.
On Thursday, LA Lakers General Manager Rob Pelinka, who was also Bryan’s close friend and agent, testified that he wants all photos of his pal’s crash nixed.
“I would want them destroyed, removed from the universe,” Pelinka said of the pictures that were allegedly shared by first responders.
Pelinka broke down crying on the stand Wednesday as he described the day he lost Bryant and his goddaughter, Gianna Bryant.
Vanessa Bryant continues to struggle with the grief and anxiety over the possibility that the pictures taken at the site could potentially be leaked to the public and viewed by her three surviving daughters, he said during the first day of his testimony.
“She has been distressed, horrified, angry,” Pelinka said of Vanessa, who he often referred to as his sister. “The very people who protect us are the very ones who did this. How could this be?”