Vanessa Bryant Expresses Anger over Kobe and Gianna Crash Photos: 'It Infuriates Me'

Joseph Zucker@@JosephZuckerFeatured Columnist IVDecember 7, 2021

FILE - In this Feb. 24, 2020, file photo, Vanessa Bryant speaks during a celebration of life for her husband Kobe Bryant and daughter Gianna in Los Angeles. The widow of basketball star Kobe Bryant is "absolutely devastated" by allegations that deputies shared graphic photos of the helicopter crash scene where Bryant, their 13-year-old daughter and seven others were killed, her lawyer said in a statement Saturday, Feb. 29. (AP Photo/Marcio Jose Sanchez, File)
AP Photo/Marcio Jose Sanchez, File

Vanessa Bryant expressed the anguish she continues to feel regarding the photos that were taken of the crash site where Kobe and Gianna Bryant and seven others died in January 2020.

As part of her ongoing litigation against Los Angeles County, Bryant wrote in a recent filing she remains worried about the photos finding their way to the wider public, per TMZ Sports:

"It infuriates me that the people I trusted to protect the dignity of my husband and daughter abused their positions to obtain souvenirs of their deaths, as though possessing pictures of their remains somehow makes them special. I imagine Kobe watching over what occurred at that crash scene, and I am overcome by anger and emotion.
"... I feel sick at the thought that deputies and firefighters have gawked at photos of my husband's and child's bodies without any reason. I also feel extreme sadness and anger knowing that photos of my husband's and daughter's bodies were laughed about while shown at a bar and awards banquet."

Bryant initially filed suit in September 2020, saying that members of the L.A. County Sheriff's Department took illicit photos of the crash and showed them to people outside of the department.

In March, Bryant said on Instagram that four deputies were at fault. One of the deputies, Joey Cruz, allegedly talked to a bartender and patrons at a local dining establishment about the crash scene and showed photos to multiple people.

L.A. County Sheriff Alex Villanueva confirmed in March he instructed eight of his deputies to delete any photos they had of the crash.

Representatives for the county contended in May that Bryant still didn't have enough evidence to prove in court her privacy was invaded.

"The county does not condone this showing of accident site photographs and has taken corrective personnel actions accordingly," the lawyers said, per the Los Angeles Times' Richard Winton. "That does not mean, however, that plaintiff has viable legal claims. The two seminal cases involve public dissemination of pictures of human remains, and that did not occur here."

The promise Villanueva made to Bryant about securing the crash scene has become a point of contention in the lawsuit.

According to USA Today's Brent Schrotenboer, Bryant's lawyers are saying that Villanueva's order amounted to the destruction of evidence and hindered further examination into the actions of first responders.

L.A. County, on the other hand, said Villanueva was following through on what he said to Bryant and attempted to minimize further exposure of the photos.