Vanessa Bryant Names Deputies Who Allegedly Shared Photos of Kobe Bryant's Crash

Paul KasabianSenior ContributorMarch 18, 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

Vanessa Bryant revealed the names of the four deputies who allegedly shared photos of the helicopter crash scene where her husband, Los Angeles Lakers legend Kobe Bryant, and her second-eldest daughter, Gianna Maria Bryant, died along with seven others on the morning of January 26, 2020, in Calabasas, California.

On Instagram, Bryant posted her entire lawsuit against the County of Los Angeles, the Los Angeles County Sheriff's Department, the Los Angeles County Fire Department and the four deputies (Joey Cruz, Rafael Mejia, Michael Russell and Raul Versales). A red box outlined the four deputies' names.

The lawsuit, which was filed in the United States District Court, Central District of California, seeks damages for negligence and invasion of privacy.

ESPN's Dave McMenamin provided more information regarding the breached integrity at the scene, which included at least one deputy focusing on taking pictures of the victims' remains. Bryant's suit also says the breach included photos being shared with people who had nothing to do with the crash investigation.

"Despite assurances provided by [Sheriff Alex Villanueva] at the time, a subsequent investigation by the Los Angeles County Sheriff's Department showed that one deputy took between 25 and 100 photos on his personal cell phone—including some focused solely on the victims' remains."

"Many of those photos, the suit alleges, were quickly shared through text message and the AirDrop feature on iPhones to other deputies within the L.A. County Sheriff's Department who had no connection to the investigation."

The suit says Cruz showed the photos to a bartender in Norwalk, California. A patron who overheard a conversation between the bartender and other patrons emailed a complaint to the Sheriff's Department.

Per the Associated Press, Bryant won a ruling against Los Angeles County to obtain the deputies' names. The county wished to keep the deputies' identities private, but U.S. District Court Judge John F. Walter rejected their case.