Vanessa Bryant Sues LA County Sheriff over Leaked Photos of Kobe Bryant Crash

Mike Chiari@mikechiariFeatured ColumnistSeptember 22, 2020

Kobe Bryant, right, and Vanessa Laine Bryant arrives at the Oscars on Sunday, March 4, 2018, at the Dolby Theatre in Los Angeles. (Photo by Jordan Strauss/Invision/AP)
Jordan Strauss/Associated Press

Vanessa Bryant is suing Los Angeles County Sheriff Alex Villanueva and his office over multiple deputies taking photos of Bryant's late husband and child, Kobe Bryant and Gianna Bryant, after they died in a helicopter crash in January.

According to TMZ Sports, the lawsuit alleges that "no fewer than eight sheriff's deputies at the crash site, pulled out their personal cell phones and snapped photos of the dead children, parents and coaches. The deputies took these photos for their own personal gratification."

Richard Winton of the Los Angeles Times noted Villanueva admitted in March that eight deputies took or shared photos.

Kobe, Gianna and seven others died when the helicopter they were traveling in crashed in Calabasas, California, en route to Mamba Sports Academy in Thousand Oaks, California.

A male deputy allegedly showed the photos to a woman at a bar, and a bartender then called the sheriff's department to inform it of the situation.

Vanessa Bryant alleges that Villanueva attempted to cover up the fact that the photos were taken by telling the deputies they would not be punished if they deleted the photos. She says in the lawsuit that she and other family members of those who died in the crash were not informed of the photos by Villanueva and only found out about them when the bartender's story went public.

The lawsuit states: "Ms. 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."

At the time of their death, Kobe was 41 years of age and Gianna was 13. Kobe is best remembered for his historic basketball career, as he spent all 20 of his NBA seasons with the Los Angeles Lakers and won five championships in the process.

Gianna was a rising basketball star in her own right with aspirations to play basketball at a major college and in the WNBA.

As part of the lawsuit, Vanessa Bryant is seeking punitive damages and other unspecified damages.