The court in the trial between Johnny Depp and ex-wife Amber Heard was shown body camera footage from LAPD officers from a domestic violence call at the LA penthouse where Ms Heard was staying on 21 May 2016.
The defamation trial between Mr Depp and Ms Heard began on 11 April in Fairfax, Virginia following Mr Depp’s lawsuit against his ex-wife in March 2019. Mr Depp is arguing that she defamed him in a December 2018 op-ed published in The Washington Post titled “I spoke up against sexual violence — and faced our culture’s wrath. That has to change”.
Body camera footage played in court on Wednesday during testimony from officer William Gatlin shows him and his partner knocking on the door of the penthouse.
Mr Gatlin, who appeared in a video deposition recorded in November of last year, was questioned by Heard lawyer Elaine Bredehoft.
Following an earlier visit by two other LAPD officers to Mr Depp’s penthouse on the evening of 21 May 2016, Mr Gatlin came to the residence at 10.24pm that same night.
The eight-year veteran of the police force said he wasn’t aware at the time that it was Mr Depp’s apartment that he was visiting.
Mr Gatlin said he came as close as 10-15 feet (3-4.5 metres) to Ms Heard but added that the lighting was “pretty dim”. He added that Ms Heard and her friends who were also present in the apartment appeared reluctant to talk.
No one said Mr Depp, who was not present, was Ms Heard’s husband at the time, and Mr Gatlin added that Ms Heard didn’t try to show him any injuries or property damage.
In the body camera footage, Josh Drew answers the door when the officers knock. The footage doesn’t show Mr Drew’s face. He lived in the penthouse next door, which was also owned by Mr Depp.
Mr Drew goes to collect the business card left by the officers who visited the residence earlier that night and starts to close the door, but the officers instead enter the home, noting that they have received another “notification”.
The voice of a woman can be heard on the recording saying that other police officers have already been at the home and that everyone is okay. While someone states that “Johnny” isn’t present, no surname is provided.
The footage also shows two dogs walking around the officers. Mr Depp and Ms Heard had two dogs, Pistol and Boo, at the time.
The officers ask a few more questions but soon leave.
“Are you able to testify whether Amber Heard was a victim of domestic violence by Mr Depp on 21 May 2016?” Ms Bredehoft asked Mr Gatlin.
“Based on our investigation it appeared as if she was not,” he said, adding that she was “refusing to give any statement” and that at the time “we did not observe any visible or verifiable injuries to her”.
He was also asked if he, as an officer, could testify that Mr Depp didn’t abuse Ms Heard in any way on 21 May 2016.
“I don’t believe I’m in a position to testify whether he did or did not because I was not there when the incident potentially occurred,” he said.
In her 2018 op-ed, Ms Heard wrote that “like many women, I had been harassed and sexually assaulted by the time I was of college age. But I kept quiet — I did not expect filing complaints to bring justice. And I didn’t see myself as a victim”.
“Then two years ago, I became a public figure representing domestic abuse, and I felt the full force of our culture’s wrath for women who speak out,” she added at the time.
While Mr Depp isn’t named in the piece, his legal team argues that it contains a “clear implication that Mr Depp is a domestic abuser”, which they say is “categorically and demonstrably false”. Mr Depp is seeking damages of “not less than $50m”.
Ms Heard has filed a $100m counterclaim against Mr Depp for nuisance and immunity from his allegations.
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