December 7, 2022

  • Vanessa Bryant will be able to call a key eyewitness in her lawsuit against Los Angeles County.
  • In the last hearing before the trial began on August 10, both her team and the county claimed wins.
  • The second eyewitness who filed a complaint will not be able to testify.

A woman who filed a complaint saying she watched a former Los Angeles County Fire Department member display horrific images of a Kobe helicopter crash will be allowed to testify in the upcoming trial of Vanessa Bryant against Los Angeles County.

In January, Bryant’s attorney moved to ask the court to accept the testimony of eyewitness Ralph Mendes Jr. and Willa Weirter, The two private citizens who filed complaints Allegedly, photos of Kobe Bryant’s helicopter crash were made public.

On Friday, at a pretrial conference, before the trial begins next week, Judge John Walter said that Mendes Jr. could not address the court because it would be “unacceptable rumours,” because he only heard a conversation, but that Weireter could testify under some circumstances.

In September 2020, Bryant filed a lawsuit against the Los Angeles County Police Department, the county fire department, the county as a whole, and eight officers following reports that first responders Take and share photos of the crash site in January 2020.

Her case is seeking punitive damages from county defendants accused of taking and sharing photos of the crash site. Bryant is suing the county for negligence, emotional distress and breach of privacy lawsuits as well as federal claims relating to the constitutional right to photographs of her deceased loved ones and the practices of the Los Angeles County Agency that led to the allegations of taking and publishing the photographs.

Bryant’s anti-county trial began on August 10.

Bryant’s lawsuit alleges that Tony Embrenda, a former public information officer for the Los Angeles Fire Department, referenced and displayed the photos less than a month after the accident at the 2020 Golden Mike Awards, which Weireter attended.

According to Bryant’s team, Weireter filed a complaint with the county after she allegedly saw Imbrenda showing pictures to others who had gathered around him and his phone at the party. Weireter also claimed to have heard a fire captain clutching his stomach and saying, “I just saw pictures of my Kobe and it all burned before I was about to eat.”

Walter said Weirter could not help but testify about what she had seen from Embrinda and the fire chief.

The county had previously objected to requests from civilians to testify, saying, “Neither Mendez nor Weirter have seen any photos of the crash site.”

“Either they ‘heard’ something from 20 feet away or someone told them what someone else told them. This is not valid evidence,” Los Angeles County attorneys wrote in February.

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