JOEY Cruz has been named as one of the four Los Angeles County Sheriff’s deputies alleged to have shared photos from the site of the helicopter crash that killed Kobe Bryant.
Their names were revealed when Kobe’s widow Vanessa, 37, posted images of lawsuit documents she filed against Los Angeles County, the sheriff’s department, the county fire department, and the deputies.
Who is Joey Cruz?
Bryant and his 13-year-old daughter and several others were traveling by helicopter in January last year to Mamba Academy in Thousand Oaks, California for a basketball game when it crashed.
Cruz has been named along with Rafael Mejia, Michael Russell and Raul Versales as defendants in the civil rights lawsuit stemming from the January 26, 2020 crash.
His named was revealed when Los Angeles federal judge rejected bid to by country attorneys to have the deputies’ names withheld to prevent them being the targets of hackers.
What has Joey Cruz been accused of?
According to the lawsuit Mejia obtained "multiple photographs of the Bryants' remains" from fire department personnel taken at the scene "and stored them on his personal cell phone", NBC reports.
Mejia then passed the photos to Cruz, a trainee deputy at the time, the lawsuit alleges.
After obtaining the photos, Cruz shared them with "multiple individuals without any legitimate governmental purpose, including several members of the public".
While he was at the Lost Hills Sheriff's station on the evening of the crash, Cruz told fellow deputy Russell that he had photos of the crash scene.
"Russell asked to see the photos, and Cruz texted photos of the Bryants' remains to Russell's personal cell phone,'' according to the suit.
It’s alleged that while Cruz was at his mother’s house he showed photos of the remains to his niece and made a crude remark before doing so.
Later that day while at the Baja California Bar and Grill in Norwalk, Cruz allegedly "boasted that he had worked at the scene of the accident where Kobe Bryant had died”.
“Cruz then showed photos of the Bryants' remains to a fellow bar patron and the restaurant's bartender, and he is seen on the bar's security camera zooming in and out of the images while displaying them to the bartender,'' according to the suit.
"One of the photos showed the body of a girl, and Cruz remarked that another showed the remains of Kobe Bryant,'' the suit states.
"Shortly after seeing the photos, the bartender loudly boasted to restaurant employees and patrons that he had just seen a photo of Kobe Bryant's body and described the image in graphic detail."
The bartender “told a table of nearby customers specific characteristics" of Kobe Bryant's remains, it’s alleged.
But the patrons became disturbed enough that one filed an official complaint with the Sheriff's Department, the suit says.
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