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Vanessa Bryant's case against Los Angeles County continues as the former fire captain, Brian Jordan, testified on Monday, walking off the witness stand three times during his questioning.
Jordan cited stress from working the January 2020 helicopter crash that killed Kobe Bryant, his 13-year-old daughter, Gianna Bryant, and seven others, claiming that he has no memory of taking photos of the crash site that day, according to CNN. Jordan shared with the courtroom that the trauma of witnessing the wreckage caused him to block the experience from his memory after he retired in 2021.
"The way the whole scene looked, that's going to haunt me forever," he said during his testimony.
The NBA great's widow is suing over graphic photos taken and shared for personal use by Sheriff's and Fire Department officials from the helicopter crash site where Kobe and Gianna were killed.
On Monday, Vanessa's lawyer, Luis Li, said that Jordan was led through the scene by a sheriff's deputy to take site photography, including of crash wreckage and victims' remains. Asked whether Kobe's remains "were among the pictures," Jordan excused himself from the stand.
"I need a break, I need a break," Jordan said as he stood up. Adding, "Sorry your honor." CNN reports that Jordan walked off the stand a total of three times, with Li noting during his questioning that Jordan exited the courtroom with his attorney each time.
Jordan's attorney, Steven Haney, was present near the courtroom gallery although he is not among the legal team representing defendant LA County. Haney told CNN that Jordan's departures throughout his testimony were not regarding any legal issue, but a reaction to "a medical condition associated with his viewing of the crash scene and it causes him to suffer trauma."
"The only reason I'm sitting here is because someone threw my name into this whole thing," Jordan said during his testimony, rejecting targeted questions about exactly what he had photographed that day and why. He claimed that a supervisor asked him to take site photography as part of the fire department's response to the crash.
"Maybe that was the day I should have been insubordinate," he added.
In his opening remarks last week, Li said that photos of the crash site were taken as "visual gossip" and had no official purpose, viewed only "for a laugh."
"They were shared by deputies playing video games," Li said. "They were shared repeatedly with people who had absolutely no reason to receive them."
County lawyers argued the case has no legal merit because images were never leaked to the public. "It is undisputed that the complained-of photos have never been in the media, on the Internet, or otherwise publicly disseminated. Plaintiff Vanessa Bryant has never seen county photos of her family members," the lawyers said.
"Looking back, do you think there was any reason for you to receive these accident photos?" asked plaintiff attorney Craig Lavoie.
"Looking back on it today, no." Deputy Cruz replied, saying he initially thought he may have been tasked with writing a report. Cruz said he "took it too far" by showing the images to "close friend" and bartender Victor Gutierrez, calling it "something I shouldn't have done."
Cruz is expected to continue his testimony on Tuesday.