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7 Dec, 2021 11:56

Bryant widow ‘sick’ knowing that helicopter crash photos were shared by LA County officials

Bryant widow ‘sick’ knowing that helicopter crash photos were shared by LA County officials

Vanessa Bryant, the widow of NBA icon Kobe, says she has suffered "tremendous pain and distress" knowing that photos of the crash which killed her husband, daughter and several others were shared by LA County officials.

Bryant launched a lawsuit in September 2020 against LA County, its associated emergency responders and eight individual sheriff officers amid allegations about the gruesome photographs of the helicopter crash site in which Kobe, their daughter Gigi and seven others died the previous January.

Included in her suit against the County were allegations of negligence, intentional infliction of emotional distress and invasion of her and her family's right to privacy.

In a new declaration related to the case, Bryant says that she was "sick" and felt "extreme sadness and anger" when she was informed that photographs from the crash site had been taken and allegedly distributed by officers.

"This conduct has caused me tremendous pain and distress," Bryant said in the document, intended as a counter to LA County's request to dismiss the lawsuit because the images had since been permanently deleted.

"It infuriates me that the people I trusted to protect the dignity of my husband and daughter abused their positions to obtain souvenirs of their deaths, as though possessing pictures of their remains somehow makes them special.

"I imagine Kobe watching over what occurred at that crash scene and I am overcome with anger and emotion.

"I also feel extreme sadness and anger knowing that photos of my husband's and daughter's bodies were laughed about while shown at a bar and an awards banquet."

That latter allegation refers to a firefighter who reportedly showed the images to other firefighters and their wives and girlfriends while socializing at an awards ceremony several weeks after the crash.

Last month's move to dismiss the lawsuit came after an investigation from an independent forensic examiner determined that the photos have been erased from all devices on which they had been stored and are unrecoverable. 

"In this lawsuit, the County seems to argue that a deputy texting photos of my husband and daughter's bodies to a video game buddy who works for the Sheriff's Department is somehow less bad than sharing photos with a member of the public," Bryant countered. "To me, the pain is the same.

"[The photos] can be stored, backed up, and shared in countless ways – sometimes even inadvertently," she added. "When typing 'Kobe' into search functions to look for something related to my husband online, search features sometimes auto-suggest 'Kobe Bryant crash pictures' and 'Kobe Bryant body.'"

She also stated that she had inadvertently come across an image purporting to be her husband's remains and had "been tormented with thoughts of who took it and whether it depicts my husband."

"One day, such as when my girls are assigned to research their family tree for a school project, I do not want them searching my husband's and daughter's names to discover photos of their remains," she continued.

"For the rest of my life, one of two things will happen: either close-up photos of my husband's and daughter's bodies will go viral online, or I will continue to live in fear of that happening."

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