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Police in LA are being sued after it was discovered they allegedly kept grim ‘ghoul books’ full of photos of famous people who met violent deaths.
The trial began on Wednesday after Vanessa Bryant, Kobe Bryant’s widow, learned that officers from the LA County Sheriff’s Department, as well as other emergency workers, took photos of the remains of Kobe and Gianna Bryant on their personal mobiles.
They then allegedly passed them around to co-workers, family, friends and even strangers.
Vanessa Bryant filed her claim against the unauthorised photos in May that year and later said she feared the images would go viral.
Lakers legend Kobe and his 13-year-old daughter Gianna were tragically killed in a helicopter crash in January 2020. Seven others also died in the accident.
The group had been flying to a basketball tournament when the aircraft crashed in the Calabasas hills west of Los Angeles in fog.
Testifying on Friday, retired Los Angeles Police Department special investigator Adam Bercovici, said: “These death books are widely spread and well-known. Officers keep them as souvenirs and they have no investigative value."
Speaking about the sharing of photos, which he claims was a widespread problem among law enforcement in Southern California, he also said he was shown a ‘ghoul book’ which featured an image of Nicole Brown Simpson’s nearly decapitated remains.
The ex-wife of OJ Simpson had been brutally killed outside her home in Los Angeles.
Bercovici added: “It was a random Polaroid and I said to myself, ‘That’s not supposed to be going around.’ I said, ‘That was not cool.’ It was very graphic.”
Taking to the stand, Deputy Doug Johnson said he didn’t regret taking photos of the remains of Kobe and Gianna.
He claimed he was ordered to do so by a higher-ranking officer – although that person said they did not give that order.
Johnson said he took 25 photos, although another claimed the actual reality was closer to 100 images.
He said while he took pictures of the basketball star’s remains, he didn’t realise who it was at the time and remained adamant that he would not have done anything differently.
He said there was an internal investigation after the crash, however he was not disciplined for his actions.
Hearing his testimony, Vanessa broke down inside the courtroom.
The trial continues.
If you have experienced a bereavement and would like to speak with someone in confidence contact Cruse Bereavement Care via their national helpline on 0808 808 1677