Surgeon backs Johnny Depp’s account of severed finger injury over Amber Heard’s ‘highly unlikely’ story

Dr Richard Gilbert, an orthopaedic surgeon who specialises in the hand, appeared at the couple’s defamation trial on Thursday

Maanya Sachdeva,Megan Sheets
Thursday 26 May 2022 18:23
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A surgeon testifying on behalf of Johnny Depp has offered support for the actor’s account of how his finger was severed during a 2015 fight with ex-wife Amber Heard in Australia.

Dr Richard Gilbert, an orthopaedic surgeon who specialises in the hand, appeared at the Fairfax County circuit court in Virginia on Thursday (26 May) as the final witness for Mr Depp in his multi-million dollar defamation lawsuit against Ms Heard.

The physician confirmed that he is aware of Mr Depp’s account of how the injury happened - by a vodka bottle thrown by Ms Heard - and her account that he may have cut the finger by smashing a phone against a wall.

When Mr Depp’s lawyer asked Dr Gilbert whether the Pirates of the Carribbean actor could have been severed his finger in the way the 58-year-old had described during his own testimony earlier in the trial, he responded: “I do believe so.”

Asked about Ms Heard’s account, Dr Gilbert called it “highly unlikely”.

He said his professional opinion is that the wound was caused by a “sharp laceration”, based on images immediately after the injury. He added that a vodka bottle could have been the source of that laceration.

Dr Gilbert also refuted conclusions made by Dr Richard Moore, an orthopaedic surgeon called by Ms Heard’s team earlier this week, by saying it was “impossible” to tell the direction in which the injury occurred.

In his testimony, Dr Moore said that the injury could not have occurred from above and suggested it was caused by a “crushing” motion.

Dr Gilbert however agreed with Dr Moore’s conclusion that it’s impossible to “definitively” say what the injury was caused by.

He reiterated that on cross-examination by Heard attorney Ben Rottenborn, who reminded the court that Heard has said she herself is not sure exactly how the injury occurred and only offered the phone explanation as a possibility.

Dr. Richard Gilbert, an orthopedic surgeon, testifies at the Depp v Heard trial on 26 May

Mr Depp and Ms Heard both offered extensive accounts of what happened on the night his finger was severed while the couple were in Australia in 2015.

Mr Depp has alleged that Ms Heard became “irate” during a discussion about a postnuptial agreement, which he said escalated into “madness”, “chaos”, and “violence”.

Asked how his finger became injured, Mr Depp told the jury that things “were all getting too crazy”.

“I went behind the bar, I grabbed a bottle of vodka that was there and a shot glass,” he said, adding that he “poured [himself] two or three stiff shots of vodka”, which were “the first taste of alcohol [he’d] had in a long time”.

He alleged that Ms Heard, having found him at the bar, started screaming at him about his drinking. “She walked up to me and reached and grabbed the bottle of vodka and then just kind of stood back and hurled it at me,” he said. “And it just went right past my head and smashed behind me.”

Mr Depp said he grabbed another bottle, poured himself a shot, and drank it. He alleged that Ms Heard was flinging insults at him and grabbed that bottle and threw it at him. He alleged that the bottle “made contact” with him and “shattered everywhere”.

“I didn’t feel the pain at first at all,” he said. “I felt no pain whatsoever. I felt heat and I felt as if something were dripping down my hand. And then I looked down and realized that the tip of my finger had been severed, and I was looking directly at my bones sticking out.”

Mr Depp, who is suing Ms Heard for allegedly implying he abused her in a 2018 op-ed, continued: “I think that I went into some sort of – I don’t know what a nervous breakdown feels like, but that’s probably the closest that I’ve ever been.”

Mr Depp said that once in the emergency room, he told a doctor he had smashed his finger in a door because he did not want to “get [Ms Heard] in trouble”.

Ms Heard was also asked about the incident, which allegedly took place in March 2015 (about a month after she and Mr Depp got married), on her second day of testimony (5 May).

Ms Heard said Mr Depp was “very upset” about her working with Eddie Redmayne on The Danish Girl and other actors. She recounted a “belligerent” interaction with Mr Depp that made her realize “the arrows were pointed at [her] again”.

A physical altercation began, during which Ms Heard said Mr Depp “slams me against the wall hard” and called her names.

At one point, Ms Heard said Mr Depp threw her into a ping-pong table, got on top of her, and whacked her in the face repetitively.

Ms Heard was visibly distressed as she continued her testimony. She said Mr Depp struck her in a manner that “sent [her] down to the ground”, and that when she got up Mr Depp threw a bottle in her direction. She said at one point he had a broken bottle up next to her face and neck, and told her he would “carve up [her] face”.

Ms Heard said her memories of the night came to her as “flashes”. Eventually, she said, Mr Depp was throwing bottles in her direction and she could “feel glass breaking behind [her]” and one bottle going past her head, which left her “terrified”.

She said Mr Depp ripped her nightgown off her chest and that the nightgown was eventually torn off completely, leaving her naked.

She alleged that Mr Depp started punching the wall next to her head and holding her by the neck. At some point, she said Mr Depp ended up “on top of [her]”, telling her she’d “ruined [his] f****** life”.

“I couldn’t breathe, I couldn’t get through to him, I couldn’t get up,” she said. “I don’t know how that ended. I don’t know how – I don’t know what happened next.” Ms Heard sobbed as she continued: “The next thing I remember, I was bent over backwards on the bar, meaning my chest was up. I was staring at the blue light. My back is on the countertop and I thought he was punching me. I felt this pressure on my pubic bone. I thought he was punching me. I could feel his arm moving and it looked like he was punching me. But I could just feel this pressure.”

Ms Heard said she remembered being still, not wanting to move, looking around the room, and seeing broken bottles and broken glass. “I remember not wanting to move because I didn’t know if it was broken – I didn’t know if the bottle that he had inside me was broken,” she said. “I couldn’t feel it. I didn’t feel pain. I didn’t feel pain. I didn’t feel anything. ... I looked around and I saw so much broken glass. ... I just remember thinking ‘Please God, please. I hope it’s not broken.’”

Ms Heard said she took sleeping pills and woke up to find Mr Depp “missing a finger”. “He kind of held it up,” she said. “And I said, ‘What did you do? When?’ And I realized in my head that there had been many hours since this probably happened.”

Ms Heard suggested the cut might have occurred when she said Mr Depp smashed up a phone earlier.

Additional reporting by The Associated Press

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