The interim fire chief of Los Angeles County blamed a rogue employee for the Kobe crash.
Anthony Marrone, chief of the Los Angeles County Fire Department, denied ever giving such a directive.
The disloyal employee “tarnished his reputation,” he said.
An ex-employee of the Los Angeles County fire chief testified that he had been ordered to take dozens of photos of the remains at the site of the Kobe Bryant helicopter crash.
On the ninth day of Vanessa Bryant and Chris Chester’s joint trial against LA County, acting LACFD fire chief Anthony Marrone testified about the graphic photos taken and shared by first responders after the helicopter crash that killed her husband, daughter Gianna Bryant, Sarah and Payton Chester, and seven others.
According to Marrone’s testimony, he was working from the Inglewood Fire Station that morning and was catching up on paperwork when he received word of the crash. He also mentioned that on his day off, retired LACFD Fire Captain and Safety Officer Brian Jordan came into the station and said, “I’m going to go to that brushfire,” referring to the blaze caused by the helicopter crash.
At 11:05, Jordan had arrived at the scene and been added to the incident team.
Former witness Jordan stated that he took between twenty-five and thirty photographs at the scene. The first officer on the scene, LASD Deputy Doug Johnson, testified in court that when Jordan arrived, he asked him to show him “where the bodies are at.”
Marrone testified that he did not instruct Jordan to take the “inappropriate” photos of the crash site that showed human remains. Also, he said he didn’t tell fire captain Arlin Kahan to take pictures of the bodies the next day, including one of a torso that was partially covered by a blanket.
“Captain Brian Jordan tarnished his dignity that day,” Marrone testified unwaveringly. He expressed concern that Jordan would give investigators a county-issued laptop that was missing its hard drive.
Marrone reported arriving at the command post at 12:50 p.m., and by 2:00 p.m., the brushfire and magnesium fire had been put out. He insisted that the command post at the mountain’s base was only interested in the general conditions of the scene, and not the human remains, which would be distracting.
Both Jordan and Kahan testified in court last week that they were told to take photographs. On Monday, Marrone testified before the jury that he had told LACFD firefighters to “be sensitive with photography that they took” after learning that Kobe Bryant might have been one of the victims.
Last week, Jordan’s explosive testimony suggested he was being framed due to “false allegations,” and he left the stand three times in the span of an hour. He took an early retirement, citing mental health issues, while the company was investigating him from within.
After learning that emergency personnel at the scene of the January 2020 crash had taken and distributed photographs of the scene, Vanessa Bryant filed a lawsuit against the Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department, the Los Angeles County Fire Department, the County of Los Angeles, and eight officers in September 2020.
Marrone also called out LACFD Public Information Officer Tony Imbrenda for thanking the private citizen who reported him while looking at photos from the crash site at a gala a month after the incident.
I apologized and thanked her for her bravery, as Marrone put it.
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