Vanessa Bryant sues LA cops for taking Kobe crash site photos and leaking them, claims damage for her distress
Only the coroner’s office and investigators with the National Transportation Safety Board were permitted to photograph the scene
Vanessa Bryant, wife of late NBA legend Kobe Bryant, reportedly filed a legal claim on Friday, May 8, about a collection of supposedly unauthorized photographs taken by officials of the Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department that show the aftermath of the January 26 helicopter crash that killed Bryant, their 13-year-old daughter Gianna, and seven others.
Vanessa’s claim seeks damages for emotional distress and mental anguish caused by the revelation that eight LA County Sheriff’s Department deputies took graphic photographs of the victims and shared them with unauthorized people.
The report said that this happened despite Vanessa personally speaking to Sheriff Alex Villanueva on the morning of the crash to request the site be secured for privacy. Only the county coroner’s office and investigators with the National Transportation Safety Board were reportedly permitted to photograph the scene.
The legal claim asserts, “... No fewer than eight sheriff’s deputies were at the scene snapping cell-phone photos of the dead children, parents, and coaches... As the Department would later admit, there was no investigative purpose for deputies to take pictures at the crash site. Rather, the deputies took photos for their own personal purposes.”
At least two LA firefighters also allegedly took photographs. They were supposedly told to delete them.
Her attorneys claim that sheriff’s deputies allegedly shared photos of victims’ remains with individuals unaffiliated with the investigation “for their own excitement and sense of self- importance”. There was allegedly one instance where a deputy shared photos to impress a woman at a bar. “The sheriff’s deputies who took and shared the photos are thus liable for negligence, intentional infliction of emotional distress, and invasion of Mrs Bryant’s right to privacy in the death images of her loved ones,” they said.
Vanessa’s claim further said that the “department’s mishandling of this egregious misconduct” worsened the widow’s “emotional distress.”
It further said: “Rather than formally investigate the allegations to identify the extent of dissemination and contain the spread of the photos, Department leadership reportedly told deputies that they would face no discipline if they just deleted the photos... Mrs Bryant was distressed to learn that the Department did not initiate a formal investigation until after the LA. Times broke the story on or about February 28 and that the Department had taken few if any steps to contain the spread of the photos.”
Vanessa's attorneys have requested information about the department's investigation, the identities of the deputies involved, and the steps the department implemented to find those who had taken the photos and anyone else who may have viewed or obtained them. The department allegedly responded to this request saying that it would be unable to assist in this matter.
Speaking to the press, a spokesperson for the Bryants said, “This [filing] solely is about enforcing accountability, protecting the victims and making sure no one ever has to deal with this conduct in the future. When a family suffers the loss of loved ones, they have the right to expect that they will be treated with dignity and respect. The Deputies, in this case, betrayed that sacred trust. This claim is intended to hold the Sheriff’s Department accountable and to prevent future misconduct.”
Per the claim, “Mrs Bryant has suffered an immense tragedy by losing her husband and daughter; her grief has been compounded by the severe emotional distress caused by the sheriff’s deputies’ misconduct and the Sheriff’s Department’s mishandling of that misconduct... Mrs Bryant is deeply worried that all copies of the sheriff’s deputies’ photos have not been accounted for, and that it is only a matter of time before she or her daughters encounter them on the Internet.”