Los Angeles jurors were told Wednesday by a lawyer representing Vanessa Bryant that the gruesome photographs of her husband Kobe Bryant were shared by first responders with “visual gossip” with almost 30 people, including in a bar and in an online game chat.
After Bryant’s death, Bryant’s 13-year-old daughter Gianna and seven other children in Calabasas (California) on January 26, 2020, the widow of the basketball legend is suing the county in U.S. District Court for invasion of privacy.
Vanessa Bryant wept openly during the opening statement of her lawyer.
Luis Li, the attorney for Luis Li, stated that they were “shared by deputies who played video games.” “They were shared with people who had absolutely zero reasons to receive them.”
According to the lawyer, Vanessa Bryant’s worst day was when her daughter and Lakers star died in a fiery crash west of Los Angeles.
“The county made things worse. He said that they had put salt in an open wound, and then rubbed it in.”
Vanessa Bryant was alerted to the horrific photos by a Los Angeles Times article a month later.
Jurors were shown surveillance footage showing an off-duty deputy sheriff at a bar pulling out graphic photos from his phone and showing them to him. He shook his head in shock.
Two weeks later, firefighters looked at the photographs at an awards banquet. A deputy shared an image of the firefighters with a colleague as the men played “Call of Duty”, Li stated.
A chart showing that the images were distributed to more than twenty-six people was presented by the lawyer. The attorney claimed that the family will never be able to know the full extent of the privacy breach because authorities failed to conduct an investigation.
Li stated that Vanessa Bryant will be haunted forever by the images they made. She also said that she fears that someday, disturbing images may surface online and that her children will see them.
J. Mira Hashmalll, an attorney for the county, stated that “site photography was essential” and that it was appropriate to take photos on the spot. She admitted that it was a mistake to share the photos.
Hashmall stated that Sheriff Alex Villaneuva directed his deputies immediately to delete all photos to make sure they weren’t in the public domain — a decision widely criticized by legal experts, who claim he was required to preserve the photos and launch an investigation.
They are not online. They are not on the media. Hashmall stated that they have never been seen by plaintiffs. That is no accident. It is an indication of how diligent they were.
Chris Chester, whose daughter and wife died in the accident, is also a plaintiff. He seeks unspecified damages of millions.
The chartered helicopter crashed in fog as the 18-time All-Star and Gianna, his daughter, were flying to a girls’ basketball tournament.
Kobe Bryant was 41 years old when he won five NBA championships. He was also elected to the Hall of Fame in the same year that he died. They have three daughters.