In January 2020, fans around the world mourned the death of Kobe Bryant after he was involved in a fatal helicopter crash on his way to a basketball game. The tragic incident also claimed the lives of his daughter, Gianna, and seven other loved ones from the close-knit community of Orange County.
A few months after the athlete’s death, his wife, Vanessa Bryant, sued the Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department for allegedly releasing personal photos from the crash site. “Faced with a scene of unimaginable loss, no fewer than eight deputy sheriffs at the crash site pulled out their personal cellphones and took pictures of the dead children, parents and coaches,” the lawsuit says, according to The Bleacher Report. “The MPs took these photos for their own personal satisfaction.”
On August 10, Bryant’s trial began, and on the second day of the trial, new disturbing allegations about the department surfaced, with an expert witness invoking the memory of the late Nicole Brown Simpson to prove a chilling point.
Expert Says Officials Shared Polaroid of Nicole Brown Simpson’s Body
On August 12, prosecutors’ expert, retired LAPD Lt. Adam Bercovici, claimed that sharing photos from the scene of death was a common problem among officers. According to our on-site court reporter, Nicki Swift, Bercovici told the jury some officers had “death books” or “ghoul books” with somber photos of police scenes that they passed around dressing rooms. The expert also claimed officials would prefer images of “traumatic amputations” and scenes where the person killed himself. He bluntly said, “The more descriptive the better,” according to our court reporter Nicki Swift.
However, Bercovici’s testimony took another disturbing turn when he claimed a similar incident occurred in 1994, after a Polaroid of Nicole Brown Simpson’s murdered body was circulated around the police department. “It was just a Polaroid, a random Polaroid,” Bercovici said, according to Nicki Swift’s court clerk. After staff flagged the disturbing photo, they reportedly responded, “We know about this and are trying to round them up.” Towards the end of his testimony, Bercovici said that “without clear guidelines or guidance,” officers would continue to improperly handle sensitive death scene photos .
Bercovici’s time on the stand wasn’t the only troubling testimony. During the same hearing, Luella Weireter, her husband’s colleague firefighter, claimed that she shared somber photos of the crash site at a February 2020 gala. Weireter’s emotional statement about how one of the firefighters reacted to the pictures had Vanessa Bryant cry and cower in her seat.