Vanessa Bryant Files Claim over Release of Kobe Bryant Crash Site Photos

Adam Wells@adamwells1985Featured ColumnistMay 8, 2020

Kobe Bryant's wife Vanessa Bryant speaks during the

Vanessa Bryant has filed a legal claim over the release of photographs taken by officials with the Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department that show the aftermath of the helicopter crash that killed her husband, Kobe, daughter, Gianna, and seven other people.

Per People's Jason Duaine Hahn and Elizabeth Leonard, Bryant filed the claim on Friday and is seeking damages stemming from the "emotional distress and mental anguish" caused when it was revealed graphic pictures of the victims were taken by sheriff's deputies at the scene and shared with unauthorized people. 

In February, Alene Tchekmedyian and Paul Pringle of the Los Angeles Times reported the Sheriff Civilian Oversight Commission voiced concern about Los Angeles County sheriff's deputies allegedly sharing graphic photos from the scene of the crash. 

One source told Tchekmedyian and Pringle he saw one of the photos on the cell phone of an official "in a setting that had nothing to do with the investigation of the crash."

Tchekmedyian and Pringle reported in March that a cover-up ensued in the aftermath of a written complaint being filed three days after the helicopter crash due to an L.A. County sheriff's deputy showing off photos at the Baja California Bar and Grill:

"The efforts to avoid public disclosure of the deputies' actions began in earnest with an order from Sheriff Alex Villanueva to have them quietly delete the photos, a move that some inside the department as well as legal experts said could amount to destruction of evidence.

"After The Times disclosed last week that the deputies shared the photos, Villanueva said he would launch an investigation. But now there are mounting demands for an independent inquiry into the matter, the latest in a series of scandals to afflict the nation's largest sheriff's department in recent years."

Bryant's complaint states: "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."

Villanueva told reporters in March the Los Angeles coroner's office and investigators with the National Transportation Safety Board were the only ones who had permission to photograph the scene of the crash. 

Kobe and Gianna Bryant were among nine people killed when a helicopter crashed into a hillside in Calabasas, California on Jan. 26