Former LAFD Captain Testifies He Was Ordered to Photograph Kobe Bryant Crash Site

Joseph Zucker@@JosephZuckerFeatured Columnist IVAugust 15, 2022

Al Seib/Los Angeles Times via Getty Images

A retired captain in the Los Angeles Fire Department testified he was ordered to take photographs of the scene of the helicopter crash that killed Los Angeles Lakers legend Kobe Bryant, his daughter Gianna Bryant and seven others.

"I followed many instructions that day but was told, 'Take pictures, take pictures, take pictures,'" Brian Jordan said in court, per TMZ Sports.

Kobe and Gianna Bryant were traveling to Gianna's game at Mamba Sports Academy on Jan. 26, 2020. Passengers Sarah Chester, Payton Chester, John Altobelli, Keri Altobelli, Alyssa Altobelli, Christina Mauser and pilot Ara Zobayan were also killed when the helicopter crashed into a hillside in Calabasas, California.

Vanessa Bryant filed suit in September 2020, alleging Los Angeles County sheriff's deputies took pictures of the crash and shared them with people outside of the department.

The LAFD conducted its own investigation and determined in May 2021 that two firefighters captured images that "served no business necessity" and "only served to appeal to baser instincts and desires for what amounted to visual gossip."

According to USA Today's Brent Schrotenboer, Jordan was identified by the department as having taken some of the photos and planned to fire him prior to his voluntary retirement.

Luis Li, an attorney for Bryant, contended in a court filing that Jordan "directly focused on human remains and then sent the photos to at least one other Department employee, who proceeded to share them over cocktails at a public awards show function."

Jordan’s attorney, Steven Haney, countered his client was "was simply obeying orders." Schrotenboer also noted Jordan "disputes many of the department’s findings and says the county used him as a scapegoat for its own shortcomings."

Jordan's testimony comes after Deputy Doug Johnson, a member of the L.A. County Sheriff's Department, said he "didn't do anything wrong" and he followed orders to document the crash scene.

Johnson testified to texting 25 photos to a deputy at a nearby command post and AirDropping them to an LAFD supervisor. He described the sharing and receiving of photos of dead bodies as "common practice."

During the trial, Li provided a visual aid alleging how crash photos taken by one sheriff's deputy wound up being shared among more than a dozen sheriff's deputies and another dozen LAFD members.


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