A man claiming he was injured at a local church in an incident involving NBA superstar Kobe Bryant spoke with police Wednesday, 10News reported.
Police told 10News Bryant and his wife were attending St. Therese of Carmel in Carmel Valley August 14 when he thought 21-year-old Thomas Hagos was taking pictures of him with a cellphone.
According to police, Bryant took the phone from Hagos, did not see any pictures on the phone and then left the church.
Hagos claims he injured his wrist in the incident and had to go to the hospital for treatment. In a police report he filed, Hagos said he suffered a sprained wrist.
Police have not disclosed what Hagos told them about the incident.
Parishioner Marsha Murphy told 10News she attended the 11 a.m. mass at St. Therese of Carmel on Sunday. She said she saw Bryant standing in the back of the church while his wife sat in the pews.
Murphy said she did not see any physical encounter between Bryant and another parishioner.
"I saw people, you know, being giddy and kind of excited that he was there, mostly men who were like, 'Wow, it's Kobe Bryant,' but I didn't see any inappropriateness," said Murphy.
10News has tried multiple times to speak to Hagos at his home, but he was not available.
Many people 10News spoke to said they were not sure if they believe the allegations, but most agreed people should not be taking pictures at church.
"Sometimes you can flare up, lose your temper. I've done it myself and maybe you snatch the phone from somebody, so I don't blame him [Bryant]," said Carmel Valley resident Nigel Mallett.
Parishioner Theodora Furtado said, "I think he has a right to his privacy, and if he doesn't want his pictures taken then we need to respect that as well."
"I feel bad for Kobe ... he seemed content, he seemed reverent, there was nothing unusual," said Murphy. "I didn't even see anybody trying to speak with him, even during the sign of the peace. I didn't see anybody try to make contact with him."
Murphy said after Bryant's wife got up to take communion, they calmly left the church together.
"They both dipped hands in baptismal font, crossed themselves and they both exited," said Murphy. "When I looked out, they were the only two people I saw in the parking lot."
Police said they are continuing their investigation into the man's claims, and one parishioner said police have interviewed church staff members about the incident.
Police did not say whether they would contact Bryant to explain his side of the story.
Hagos' neighbor and friend Sheila Ringo told 10News she was shocked when she learned of the police report he filed. She said she's known Hagos for a long time and has never known him to lie about anything.
"I think he would tell the truth," Ringo told 10News reporter Preston Phillips.
"He's an honest kid?" asked Phillips.
Ringo responded, "Yes
that I know of."
John Black, spokesman for the Los Angeles Lakers, told 10News he could not comment on the incident because of the NBA player lockout.
Last week, Bryant's lawyer, Mark Campbell, told TMZ his client is "aware of the baseless allegations asserted against him, and is prepared to defend against them fully."
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