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Vanessa Bryant leaves court in tears as the bartender says the deputy showed him photos of the Kobe crash

Vanessa Bryant left the courtroom in tears Thursday after a bartender said that a Los Angeles Sheriff's Deputy showed him photos of the horrible helicopter crash scene where her late NBA legend husband died.

Victor Gutierrez said that Dep. Joey Cruz showed him the disturbing pictures while he was working at a bar in Norco, California, in January 2020. The pictures showed body parts that had been cut off and were spread out across a hillside in Calabasas.

Vanessa Bryant sued the county in federal court, and on the second day of the trial, Gutierrez was called to the stand. He was asked if the photos of Kobe Bryant's remains looked like they belonged to him.

“I don’t know. I would say it was just parts,” he told the court, adding that it was hard to tell by skin color who they belonged to.

“It was burned. I don’t know if that was the real color.”

Gutierrez said he saw several photos of bloody remains, and Vanessa Bryant cried when he asked if any of them looked like they belonged to a young girl, possibly the couple's 13-year-old daughter Gianna.

Then, her lawyer, Luis Li, asked the judge if they could leave. The judge said, "You don't have to ask," and Bryant walked out of the courtroom crying.

Then, her lawyers showed video from the bar that showed Cruz looking at his phone, showing it to the bartender, and laughing.

Vanessa Bryant teared up as she left court Thursday.
Vanessa teared up as she left court after hearing testimony that a bartender was shown photos of Kobe’s crash.
New York Post/David Buchan David

Asked if Cruz was showing him pictures of the basketball great’s torso, Gutierrez replied, “I don’t remember.”

Gutierrez testified that he has known Cruz for a few years, considered him a friend and didn’t believe he was laughing about the Lakers legend’s remains.

“What kind of human being would laugh about that … you would have to be psycho to do that,” he said.

Rafael Mendez Jr. — a bar customer who filed a report to the LA County Sheriff’s Department saying Cruz had shown the photos to Gutierrez— later testified that he hadn’t actually seen the deputy display the images.

Bartender Victor Gutierrez testified at trial for Kobe Bryant's helicopter crash.
Bartender Victor Gutierrez testified at trial about photos of Kobe Bryant’s helicopter crash.
David Buchan for NY Post

He said that on January 28, 2020, he went to the bar and overheard Gutierrez talking about how Cruz had put the pictures up.

Mendez said that after he left the bar, he made a report to the Sheriff's Department. Captain Jorge Valdez then got in touch with him soon after.

Nearly a month later, Mendez said he read an article about his complaint, which upset him because Valdez had told him his name wouldn't be used.

Kobe Bryant, Gianna Bryant
Gutierrez was asked if the remains in the photos could belong to a young girl – or Gianna Bryant who was killed with dad Kobe Bryant.

Mendez said that on March 1, 2020, he called Valdez back and "expressed my distaste and frustration" about what seemed to be a leak.

"You know you don't have to talk to them if you don't want to, right?" the captain is said to have told him. Mendez testified, and he talked about the reporters.

The lawyers for Bryant then showed a clip of a reporter talking to LA County Sheriff Alex Villanueva, Valdez, and other officials on February 26, 2020.

In that clip, the reporter asked if they knew about a complaint about first responders and deputies sharing photos they took at the crash site. Valdez said he did not know about such a complaint.

Mendez said, "Liar," as soon as he heard the recording in court. "He is lying when he says that he didn't know about the complaint. The first person I talked to about my complaint was him."


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