Vanessa Bryant says 28 deputies, 12 firemen shared Kobe and Gianna's crash pics at bars, gala

The claims were made by lawyers for Vanessa Bryant in new court documents where she is seeking damages


                            Vanessa Bryant says 28 deputies, 12 firemen shared Kobe and Gianna's crash pics at bars, gala
Vanessa Bryant (L) lost her husband Kobe and daughter Gianna (R) in a helicopter crash (Harry How & Kevork Djansezian/Getty Images)

New court filings have claimed graphic photos showing the bodies of Kobe Bryant and his daughter Gianna, 13, were passed around by at least 28 police officers and a dozen firefighters in bars and at an awards gala shortly after they were killed in a helicopter crash in California.

The claims were made by lawyers for Vanessa Bryant in new court documents on Thursday, January 20, ahead of a trial where Kobe's widow is seeking damages from Los Angeles County for invasion of privacy over the sharing of the images. Vanessa's attorney Luis Li wrote in the documents that pretrial evidence "has shown that the close-up photos of Gianna and Kobe's remains were passed around on at least 28 sheriff's department devices and by at least a dozen firefighters, and shown off in bars and at an awards gala." The lawyer also alleged that county officials "engaged in a coverup, destroying the direct forensic evidence of their misconduct and requiring extensive circumstantial evidence to establish the full extent of that misconduct."

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The Los Angeles County has maintained that the photos were not posted online or viewed by the public aside from in a bar two days after the tragedy. A bartender allegedly told a patron that an officer had just shown him the photos, prompting the former to file a complaint with the LA County Sheriff's office. According to the lawsuit, a private citizen attending the 2020 Golden Mike Awards witnessed LA County Fire Department Public Information Officer Tony Imbrenda talking about the photos and showing them to others. That said, it wasn't immediately clear who he showed the photos to. However, officials later claimed the photos were deleted and that the witness did not see the photos herself.

Wreckage of the crashed helicopter that was carrying former NBA star Kobe Bryant and his 13-year-old daughter Gianna smolders on the ground on January 26, 2020 in Calabasas, California (Photo by David McNew/Getty Images)

The new court documents state that the photos were shown in at least two bars in the days following the crash. A Norwalk, California bartender stated that a Los Angeles police officer showed him the photos at the bar. In another instance, a Bellflower, California bartender said they spoke to a patron who gave out graphic details after viewing the victims' remains from a friend in law enforcement who provided security at the crash scene, mostly to keep coyotes away from the bodies.

In this handout photo provided by the National Transportation Safety Board, investigators work at the scene of the helicopter crash that killed former NBA star Kobe Bryant and his 13-year-old daughter Gianna on January 27, 2020 in Calabasas, California (Photo by James Anderson/National Transportation Safety Board via Getty Images)

Previously, Vanessa has said that the photos of her deceased husband and daughter were "out there" and it caused her "constant fear and anxiety." She claimed online trolls had threatened to share the gruesome images online, albeit there is no evidence of a leak at the time of publication. The embattled widow also said she had seen one photo of her husband's body and that when she typed his name in the Google search bar 'Kobe Bryant body' popped up as a suggestion.

Vanessa Bryant stands with daughters Capri and Bianka after speaking on behalf of Class of 2020 inductee, Kobe Bryant during the 2021 Basketball Hall of Fame Enshrinement Ceremony at Mohegan Sun Arena on May 15, 2021 in Uncasville, Connecticut (Photo by Maddie Meyer/Getty Images)

In a declaration filed with LA County, Vanessa detailed how she requested Sheriff Alex Villanueva on the day of the crash — January 26, 2020 — to secure the crash site and not allow anyone to take photographs. "If you can't bring my husband and baby back, please make sure no one takes photographs of them," she allegedly told the Sheriff. However, about a month later, she heard that sheriff's deputies and firefighters were passing around photos of Kobe and Gianna's remains. Her lawsuit claims she suffered emotional distress and agony over the potential image leak, Fox News reported.