Judge: Vanessa Bryant Can Obtain Names of Deputies Who Shared Kobe Crash Photos

Scott Polacek@@ScottPolacekFeatured ColumnistMarch 9, 2021

Vanessa Bryant speaks during a celebration of life for her husband Kobe Bryant and daughter Gianna Monday, Feb. 24, 2020, in Los Angeles. (AP Photo/Marcio Jose Sanchez)
Marcio Jose Sanchez/Associated Press

A federal judge ruled that Vanessa Bryant can obtain the names of four Los Angeles County sheriff's deputies who allegedly shared photographs of the aftermath of the January 2020 helicopter crash that killed nine people, including her husband, Kobe, and daughter, Gianna.

Richard Winton of the Los Angeles Times reported the news, noting U.S. District Judge John F. Walter made the ruling Monday.

Los Angeles County lawyers wanted to keep the names under seal in the lawsuit and suggested making them public could make the deputies targets for hackers. They now have four days to appeal Monday's ruling.

"Sheriff Villanueva's promise to publicly release the [internal affairs bureau] report after the conclusion of the investigation undermines Defendants' purported concern in the disclosure of the limited excerpts at issue here," the judge wrote while also ruling that knowledge of police officer misconduct should be accessible to the public.

This comes after Bryant called for the names to be released on an Instagram post last month:

Harrison Faigen @hmfaigen

Vanessa Bryant just posted this on Instagram https://t.co/yk9DuIRPhG

"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," Bryant's lawsuit stated, per Jonathan Lloyd of NBC Los Angeles. "The deputies took these photos for their own personal gratification."

The lawsuit, which is seeking damages for negligence and invasion of privacy, also says deputies and firefighters shared the pictures in an unauthorized manner.

The county said all photographs that were shared have since been deleted.