(CNN) — A Los Angeles Fire Department captain denied in court that he used the footage of the helicopter crash that claimed the lives of Kobe Bryant and eight others as a “trick” for entertainment, when he showed them at a ceremony party of award.

The testimony given by fire captain Tony Imbrenda this Wednesday is part of the process of a federal civil suit presented by Bryant’s widow, Vanessa Bryant. The lawsuit alleges that Los Angeles County invaded her privacy. Also that she failed to completely prevent the photos from being released, which caused her emotional distress. Christopher Chester, whose wife and daughter also died in the crash, is the other plaintiff. Both he and Bryant say they live in fear that the photos will be posted online again.

“I didn’t think I was violating any policy”

Imbrenda was working as a public information officer on the day of the accident. In February 2020, during the Radio and Television News Association of Southern California’s Golden Mike Awards, a discussion arose between several Fire Department public information officers about the response on the day of the accident and the role that Imbrenda played. the captain testified.

Imbrenda said that during the conversation she pulled out her phone and showed some photos of the crash — most of it from the debris field, she told the court, though some of the images had human remains.

“I didn’t think I was violating any policy…In hindsight, I feel like it wasn’t the right decision, it wasn’t my best judgment,” Imbrenda said.

But the captain maintained that he was sharing what he considered to be educational details with other public information officers. “I felt the discussion was appropriate, the setting was not,” he added.

In addition to the photos that Imbrenda took the day after the accident, the captain testified that he received dozens of images of the scene from several people, including phone numbers that he did not recognize, because as part of his job he asks the staff to send him photos of incidents.

Fire captain denies showing photos of Kobe Bryante

The incident during the Golden Mike Awards ceremony was brought to light by Luella Weireter, the wife of a Los Angeles firefighter. Weireter, who was with the group during the party, filed an official complaint with a battalion chief at a Malibu County fire station.

Weireter is the cousin of Keri Altobelli, who was killed in the same helicopter crash along with her husband John and their daughter Alyssa.

Last week, Weireter testified in court that he saw Imbrenda share photos of the crash site and of Bryant’s remains at the event. Weireter characterized it as a “gimmick” to entertain the party. He also recounted that he saw a firefighter break away from the group, saying, “I can’t believe I just saw Kobe’s burned body and now I’m about to eat.”

During her testimony on Wednesday, Imbrenda repeatedly emphasized that the human remains did not appear in the images she had, but that these were “photographs of the debris field containing human remains” and “general photographs of the incident.”

Imbrenda also denied showing photos of Kobe Bryant’s remains or even having images of his body. The captain said he visited the scene a day after the accident, by which time any identifiable body parts were covered or had been removed from the scene.

He also noted that he was unaware that a victim’s family member was present at the event.

Asked by Jerome Jackson, a lawyer representing Chester, if she used the photos “as a trick to entertain at the party,” Imbrenda said: “Absolutely not.”

“Do you think she made it up?” Jackson asked.

“I think she’s wrong,” Imbrenda replied.

“I wouldn’t have that conversation with civilian wives and girlfriends”

The captain also denied Weireter’s claim that his girlfriend excitedly called her to see the photos. “Maybe (Weireter) was wrong as to who he was talking to, but he wasn’t talking to my girlfriend,” Imbrenda said.

Imbrenda noted that at the time she showed the photos, the firefighters’ girlfriends and wives were separated from the four staff members who were discussing the accident. “I wouldn’t have that conversation with civilian wives and girlfriends,” she said.

While questioning Imbrenda, the plaintiffs’ attorneys also showed the court a video of an interview with Capt. Erik Scott of the Los Angeles City Fire Department, another information officer who attended the gala. In the clip, Scott tells county investigators “there could be a torso or someone bent in half” in the photos he saw.

Scott took the witness stand after Imbrenda on Wednesday. He testified that the focus of the conversation at the gala was learning from Imbrenda. But he agreed that human remains could be seen in some of the photos to look at. He said his brief look at the photos did not focus on the human remains.

“He focused on the high-impact crash,” Scott said. And he added that they talked about the fog that day, the speed of the helicopter and Imbrenda’s response to the media and press conferences.

Jackson asked Scott, “Did seeing a torso improve your ability to be a public information officer?”

“No,” Scott replied.

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