Vanessa Bryant learned that the LA Sheriff's Department deleted graphic photos of the crash that killed Kobe and Gianna from an LA Times story, chief testifies

Vanessa Bryant and Kobe BryantDonato Sardella/Getty Images
A LASD chief testified at Vanessa Bryant's trial this week that an agency covered up photos of the accident.
Jorge Valdez said officials at the ministry lied to a reporter about an order for the pictures to be deleted.
The families of those killed in the helicopter crash learned of the deleted photos from a message.
ADVERTISEMENT
Vanessa Bryant, who had just lost her husband and 13-year-old daughter in a grisly helicopter crash, found out through an article in the Los Angeles Times that the LA County Sheriff's Department had issued a agency-wide delete order for graphic photos containing the responding MPs At the scene of the accident, a LASD media captain testified this week.
Chief Jorge Valdez, who worked as the department's spokesman in January 2020, admitted in court on Tuesday that he helped cover up a citizens' complaint for almost a month after an MP was seen sharing gruesome photos of the crash site in shared at a bar in Norwalk.
Valdez's testimony continued Wednesday morning, beginning the sixth day of the trial between Vanessa Bryant and Los Angeles County. Vanessa Bryant filed a lawsuit against the county and other defendants alleging that LA Sheriff's Deputy and Los Angeles County Fire Department Captains took and shared photos of the helicopter crash site in late January 2020.
The timing of events indicates a deeply reactive response from the department, which only examined the photos after a private individual complained and news emerged of the improper handling of the photos.
ADVERTISEMENT
On Jan. 29, 2020 — just three days after the crash that killed Kobe Bryant, Gianna Bryant and seven others — private citizen Rafael Mendez filed a complaint with the LASD after seeing Deputy Joey Cruz hit a bartender showed graphic photos of the helicopter crash. Valdez has been tasked with investigating the complaint as media relations captain, emails presented in court show.
On January 31, Valdez testified that he retrieved security footage from Cruz's bar showing the photos. He also spoke to Mendez, who filed the complaint.
He also helped relay Sheriff Alex Villanueva's department-wide order to employees to "not let the photos see the light of day" — an order about which at least one deputy in court said he had grave concerns.
But when a Los Angeles Times reporter began investigating the complaint in late February, the department played dumb. Valdez, Villanueva and another media relations worker lied to the journalist, Valdez testified this week and denied any knowledge of the complaint or the delete order.
"We're such a big organization," Valdez told the Times. "I am not aware of any complaint."
Meanwhile, a USB stick containing surveillance footage from the bar sat in Valdez's office for most of the month without official verification.
As of Feb. 28, LASD had given employees who had shared photos of crash sites a minor disciplinary slap on the wrist and issued a statement saying the agency was "deeply disturbed" by "allegations" that employees had taken and shared photos .
In court on Tuesday, Valdez admitted that family members of the helicopter crash victims learned about the complaint and the order to delete the LA Times story and not from the agency itself. He also testified that the department never contacted Vanessa Bryant or the families of other victims about the photos or the delete order.
And it wasn't until two days after the LA Times article was published that the department began its own internal investigation into the photos, he testified.
Valdez admitted Wednesday that he "botched up" that LA Times interview, but defended himself and his bosses, saying "time was of the essence" when it came to making sure all the photos were deleted.
In the more than two years since the crash, Valdez has been promoted twice to his new role as head of the East Patrol Division.
Meanwhile, a senior LA sheriff's deputy expressed concerns after the deletion order, he testified earlier this week. He was transferred just a few weeks later. The sheriff's department said the demotion came about because of his botched handling of a sexual assault investigation at Pepperdine University.
Read the original article on Insider
Vanessa Bryant
American philanthropist

Last News

Chicago Med: Reality Leaves A Lot To The Imagination

Pamela Anderson Looks Straight Out of the '90s on the Cover of Her Memoir

Pamela Anderson Looks Straight Out of the '90s on the Cover of Her Memoir

Alex Smith details how he circumvented concussion protocol while playing for Chiefs

Alex Smith details how he circumvented concussion protocol while playing for Chiefs

Johnny Depp Performs at D.C. Concert with His Amber Heard Trial Lawyers in Audience