Tuesday, March 28, 2023

Officer accused of leaking photos of Kobe Bryant, ‘kneeling on prisoner’s head’

A Los Angeles sheriff’s deputy, who was accused of leaking photos of the body of American basketball legend Kobe Bryant, has been caught on camera allegedly kneeling on the head of a prisoner in a new controversy.

The deputy, Douglas Johnson, is at the center of an investigation over a 3-minute video related to a March 2021 incident, and LA County attorneys seeking to stop the kneeling scandal from affecting a trial involving Bryant photographs scheduled for late July. are doing. ,

Vanessa Bryant, wife of the late NBA star, sued Los Angeles County Sheriff and Fire Department staff for taking and sharing photos of human remains from the helicopter crash site that killed Bryant and their daughter Gianna Bryant in January 2020.

In a video shared by Knock LA from the March 2021 incident, Mr Johnson was seen kneeling on a prisoner’s head after the inmate punched him. The incident did not come to light a year later, in March 2022, when a LA Times The report claimed that the sheriff’s office had attempted to hide it.

The county argued in documents filed in court on Friday that the March 2021 incident had nothing to do with the alleged leak of photographs from the crash site.

“The prison incident and LASD’s response in this case are completely unrelated to the photos of the crash site,” county attorneys said in the filing. “The incident is not only irrelevant but also highly inflammatory – touching on one of the most controversial issues in our society, the accusation of excessive force by police officers.”

Lawyers for the Bryant family will not agree to exclude questions about the incident during the trial, so the judge is expected to decide the case before trial.

Kobe Bryant and Vanessa Laine Bryant, Gianna Maria-Onor Bryant, and Natalia Diamante Bryant attend the 2016 Nickelodeon Kids’ Choice Sports Awards 2016 at UCLA’s Paulie Pavilion

(Getty Images)

Louis Lee, an attorney representing Ms Bryant, said on Friday: “We look forward to responding in court.”

The sheriff’s office is accused of concealing Mr Johnson’s alleged mistreatment of the prisoner, “given its nature and its similarities to [the] The widely publicized use of force by George Floyd [case]”The LA Times Reported citing a commander who wrote in an internal force review.

During the incident, the deputy was conducting regular searches of the prisoners before they were produced in the court. He told the prisoners not to make noise as the pair kept on laughing and talking.

According to reports, one of them, 24-year-old Enzo Escalante, was pushed against a wall by Mr Johnson, at which point the prisoner turned and punched the sheriff several times in the face.

Mr Johnson and other deputies lowered him to the ground and the prisoner was handcuffed as the sheriff knelt on Mr Escalante’s head.

The department did not pursue any charges against Mr Escalante because they feared the case would attract attention and bring negative publicity, Sheriff’s Commander Alan Castellano said in an internal report.

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