Vanessa Bryant has won her lawsuit against Los Angeles County after a jury decided that she suffered severe emotional distress due to the death scene photos captured of her late husband Kobe Bryant and daughter Gianna Bryant. The lawsuit accused eight L.A. County Sheriff’s deputies of sharing the photos among themselves.
The jury awarded Vanessa $16 million, and Chris Chester, who lost his daughter 13-year-old Peyton and wife Sarah in the helicopter crash, was awarded $15 million. Both verdicts were against the Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department and the L.A. County Fire Department.
The trial began on Aug. 10 has revealed harrowing details about the aftermath of a crash in Jan. 2020 that killed Kobe and their 13-year-old daughter Gianna, along with seven other passengers. According to the lawsuit, the deputies shared them with family, friends, and strangers.
In addition, the photos were even shared at a party with fire officials. Vanessa had testified that the first responders who took photos of Gianna “violated” her. Despite Sheriff Alex Villanueva’s assurances that the scene would be secured, she was devastated to learn that such images were taken. As she testified, she continues to suffer from grief and anxiety at the thought that someday the crash site photos may surface.
On Sept. 22, 2020, the Los Angeles Sheriff’s Department released a statement. “Shortly following this tragic crash, Sheriff Alex Villanueva sponsored legislation which now makes it a crime for public safety personnel to take or share non-official pictures of this nature,” the statement read. “As a result of the swift actions we took under extraordinary circumstances, no pictures made it into the public arena. We continue to offer our heartfelt sympathies for the victims and their families.”
It’s been more than two years since Kobe, Gianna, and the seven other passengers were killed in a helicopter crash while traveling to a basketball tournament at the Mamba Sports Academy in Thousand Oaks, Calif.