Vanessa Bryant Urges Accountability for Deputies Who Took Kobe Crash Photos

Paul KasabianSenior ContributorFebruary 28, 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
Marcio Jose Sanchez/Associated Press

Vanessa Bryant has called for the Los Angeles County Sheriff's Department to reveal the names of the first responders who took or shared photos of the helicopter crash site in Calabasas, California, where nine people, including her husband, Los Angeles Lakers legend Kobe Bryant, and second-eldest daughter, Gianna Maria Bryant, died Jan. 26, 2020.

Bryant posted on Instagram imploring for the names to be released, with Harrison Faigen of Silver Screen & Roll providing a screenshot:

Per Shahan Ahmed of NBC Los Angeles, Bryant is suing the Los Angeles County Sheriff's Department after it was revealed that deputies took and shared photos of the crash site and the human remains of helicopter crash victims.

"But the biggest threat to the sanctity of the victims' remains proved to be the Sheriff's Department itself," the lawsuit reads.

"Faced with a scene of unimaginable loss, 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."

Sheriff Alex Villanueva said that several deputies shared photos and that at least one of the photos was shared outside the department. He ordered the photos to be destroyed.

Los Angeles County lawyers wish to keep the names sealed, with Richard Winton of the Los Angeles Times providing more information on their stance.

"County lawyers, however, want to keep the deputies' names under seal, arguing that releasing them would make the deputies' addresses and other personal information only a click away on the internet and that hackers could target them," Winton wrote.

The county, sheriff's department and Villanueva are named as defendants in the lawsuit, which seeks "unspecified damages," per Jonathan Lloyd of NBC Los Angeles. An amended complaint in federal court has also included the deputies who took photos as well as the L.A. County Fire Department, per Winton.