Vanessa Bryant wins case to obtain names of deputies who allegedly photographed Kobe Bryant crash site

Vanessa Bryant— widowed spouse of Kobe Bryant— won a lawsuit which she filed against four law enforcement officers who allegedly shared photos of her former husband’s death.

On Monday, March 8, 2021, Vanessa Bryant, widow of the late basketball star Kobe Bryant, won a court case to obtain the names of four Los Angeles County sheriff’s deputies who allegedly shared graphic photos from the site of her husband’s death. Reportedly, United States District Judge John F. Walter rejected the effort made by LA County lawyers to keep the names of the deputies anonymous. The Los Angeles Sheriff’s Department and Los Angeles County wanted to keep the names and ranks of the deputies anonymous, arguing that “hackers may attempt to seek out and gain access to the individual deputies’ devices to locate any photographs and publish them”

Legendary basketball star Kobe Bryant, his then-thirteen-year-old daughter Gianna, and seven others were tragically killed in a severe helicopter crash on January 26, 2020. The crash occurred in foggy weather in Calabasas, CA, northwest of Los Angeles. Reportedly, Vanessa Bryant filed a lawsuit in September of 2020 in the Supreme Court of California against the sheriff’s department of Los Angeles County and Alex Villanueva, sheriff of Los Angeles County, over the alleged graphic photos of the crash and the victims’ remains taken on the personal cell phones of eight sheriff’s deputies. Vanessa Bryant’s attorney Luis Li stated, “This lawsuit is about accountability and about preventing this disgraceful behavior from happening to other families in the future who have suffered loss” Reportedly, released the lawsuit, which states, “Mrs. Bryant feels ill at the thought of strangers gawking at images of her deceased husband and child and she lives in fear that she or her children will one day confront horrific images of their loved ones online.” It also criticizes Sheriff of Los Angeles County Alex Villanueva, saying, “But Sheriff Villanueva took no steps to deliver on these assurances with respect to the conduct of his own deputies. […] At or around the time Sheriff Villanueva was assuring Mrs. Bryant that his deputies were securing the accident scene, no fewer than eight deputies were at the crash site snapping gratuitous cell-phone photos of the dead children, parents, and coaches.”

Bryant wrote in a statement posted on Instagram, “The Sheriff’s Department wants to redact the names of the deputies that took and/or shared photos of my husband, daughter and other victims […] Anyone else facing allegations would be unprotected, named and released to the public. […] These specific deputies need to be held accountable for their actions just like everyone else.” 

As a result of winning the case, the names of the deputies will be released to Vanessa Bryant. She took to Instagram displaying her gratitude for Judge John F. Walter and her attorney Luis Li. This is a win for Bryant, who through this case believes she is protecting the privacy of not only her husband, daughter, and the other passengers of the helicopter, but also others in the future who tragically lose loved ones. As she has just won a major court case, further legal action is expected from Mrs. Bryant.




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