Vanessa Bryant is suing the Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department for sharing unauthorized photos of the site where her husband Kobe Bryant and daughter died in a helicopter crash in January.
Retired Los Angeles Lakers legend Kobe Bryant and their 13-year-old daughter, Gianna, were killed in a crash together with seven others in the Jan. 26 when they were traveling to a youth basketball tournament via helicopter.
Mrs. Bryant is claiming that Sheriff Alex Villanueva assured that the family’s privacy would be protected as it related to the crash site in Calabasas, California but other sheriff’s deputies who were at the scene snapping cell-phone photos as there was no investigative purpose for deputies to take pictures at the crash site.
In February, Los Angeles Times reported that graphic photos of the accident scene were shared by deputies but Villanueva later acknowledged that he ordered the eight other deputies to delete the graphic images.
“We’ve communicated in no uncertain terms that the behavior is inexcusable. I mean, people are grieving for the loss of their loved ones. To have that on top of what they’ve already gone through is unconscionable.” Villanueva.
A rookie who also had the photos and reportedly was overheard discussing them at a bar and that led to the department’s knowledge of the photos’ existence.
According to the claim, Mrs. Bryant was distressed to learn that the department did not initiate a formal investigation until after the media (L.A. Times) broke the story.
She is also seeking damages for emotional and mental anguish after learning that eight deputies took graphic photos of the crash scene on their personal phones. A family spokesman confirmed the filing of the claim.