Police officers who responded to a domestic violence call at the penthouse of actors Johnny Depp and Amber Heard say they saw no marks on her face after a 2016 fight between the couple in which Heard says she was assaulted.
Jurors at Depp’s libel trial against his ex-wife watched recorded depositions Wednesday from officers who say they saw Heard crying but no visible signs of injury. The incident occurred six days before Heard was at a Los Angeles courthouse to apply for a temporary restraining order with a clear mark visible on her face that she said had Depp inflicted during a fight.
Los Angeles police officer Tyler Hadden, one of the officers who responded to the couple’s penthouse apartment on May 21, 2016, said Heard refused to talk to officers and had no signs of an injury, although he acknowledged she’d been crying and was red-faced.
“Just because I see a female with pink cheeks and pink eyes doesn’t mean something happened,” he said in a recorded deposition played for jurors Wednesday.
Depp had already left the penthouse by the time officers arrived. Officers said they had no idea who Heard was, or that she was married to Depp. He said neither Heard nor anyone at the penthouse complex was willing to tell him or the other officers who Heard’s husband was.
Jurors heard similar testimony Tuesday from an officer who accompanied Hadden to the penthouse.
An officer who made a follow-up visit that night, William Gatlin, testified Wednesday that he saw no injuries either, though he acknowledged that his visit was brief and he got no closer than 10 feet (3 meters) from Heard. He said his check was a perfunctory one because it appeared that the call was just a duplicate to the one that Hadden had already responded to.
The jury saw bodycam video of Gatlin’s response, which was less than two minutes. Heard could only be seen at a distance.
Heard’s lawyers, in their questions, have suggested that Heard could have covered her injuries with makeup, because at that point she still wanted to protect Depp. They also asked officers why they didn’t investigate a potential case of domestic violence more thoroughly.
The officers’ testimony is some of Depp’s best evidence that Heard contrived the allegations against her ex-husband. It complements earlier testimony from witnesses who say they saw Heard and her sister practicing fake punches in the days after the attack.
But Heard’s lawyers have yet to put on their case, and some of her friends say they were at the penthouse when Depp allegedly attacked her.
And even if jurors were to conclude that Depp never assaulted his wife on May 21, they have heard evidence of other alleged assaults before and during the couple’s brief marriage.
Depp is suing Heard for libel in Fairfax County Circuit Court after she wrote an op-ed piece in The Washington Post referring to herself as “a public figure representing domestic abuse.”
The article doesn’t mention Depp by name, but his lawyers say the article contains “defamation by implication” because it clearly refers to allegations of domestic abuse made by heard when she filed for divorce in 2016. Depp says the Post article contributed to an unfairly ruined reputation that made him a Hollywood outcast and cost him his role in the lucrative “Pirates of the Caribbean” movie franchise. Heard’s attorneys say only Depp is to blame for his marred career.
Jurors also heard recorded testimony Wednesday from Christian Carino, an agent who represented Depp and Heard and was friends with both. He said he believes the abuse allegations scuttled Depp’s participation in a sixth “Pirates of the Caribbean” film, but he did not pin the loss of that film specifically on Heard’s 2018 op-ed piece.
Heard’s lawyers told jurors in opening statements that there must be proof that the Post article specifically damaged Depp’s reputation for him to prevail in a libel case.
Carino also testified that Heard twice tried to reconcile with Depp, even after she filed for divorce – once in 2016 and again in 2017. At one point in 2016 he brokered a meeting between Heard and a reluctant Depp that ended in a fight.
He also testified briefly about Heard’s subsequent relationship with tech entrepreneur Elon Musk. Heard texted Carino in 2017 professing sadness about her breakup with Musk. Carino seemed incredulous, and texted in response to Heard, “You told me a thousand times you were just filling space.”
While the libel lawsuit is supposed to center on whether Depp was defamed in the article, most of the trial has focused on ugly details of the couple’s brief marriage.
Depp has denied ever striking Heard. Heard’s attorneys say Depp physically and sexually abused her and that Depp’s denials lack merit because he was often drunk and high to the point of blacking out.
Wednesday marks the 10th day in the trial, which is expected to last a month. Depp himself concluded a grueling four days on the witness stand Monday; Heard is expected to testify later in the trial.