Vanessa Bryant has filed a legal claim over unauthorized photos taken by Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department officials at the scene of the helicopter crash that took the lives of her husband Kobe Bryant, their daughter Gianna and seven others.
According to documents obtained by People, Bryant’s claim is seeking damage for emotional distress and mental anguish after it was revealed that eight deputies working with the L.A. County Sheriff’s Department took photos documenting the grisly aftermath of the crash, and then shared those photos with random people — despite Bryant having a conversation with Sheriff Alex Villanueva immediately after the crash to personally request that he secure the site precisely so photos of that nature would not be taken.
“In reality, however, no fewer than eight sheriff’s deputies were at the scene snapping cell-phone photos of the dead children, parents, and coaches,” Bryant’s legal document states. “As the department would later admit, there was no investigative purpose for deputies to take pictures at the crash site. Rather, the deputies took photos for their own personal purposes.”
According to the court filing, “the department’s mishandling of this egregious misconduct” served to increase the “emotional distress” she was experiencing at the time.
“Mrs. Bryant has suffered an immense tragedy by losing her husband and daughter; her grief has been compounded by the severe emotional distress caused by the sheriff’s deputies’ misconduct and the Sheriff’s Department’s mishandling of that misconduct,” the claim continues, while alleging that the photos have been posted online.
“Mrs. Bryant is deeply worried that all copies of the sheriff’s deputies’ photos have not been accounted for, and that it is only a matter of time before she or her daughters encounter them on the internet,” the claims adds.
“This [filing] solely is about enforcing accountability, protecting the victims and making sure no one ever has to deal with this conduct in the future,” a spokesperson for the Bryant family told People in a statement.
“When a family suffers the loss of loved ones, they have the right to expect that they will be treated with dignity and respect,” the family spokesperson continued. “The Deputies in this case betrayed that sacred trust. This claim is intended to hold the Sheriff’s Department accountable and to prevent future misconduct.”
According to Just Jared, documents also stated Bryant is claiming the crash happened “due to negligence by the pilot and the aircraft’s operating company.” She claimed pilots and law enforcement had been grounded on the day of the crash due to the conditions, but the pilot requested, and received, permission to fly.
The representative of pilot Ara George Zobayan, who also died in the crash, has since responded to the lawsuit against Ara and helicopter company Island Express saying, according to TMZ, “Any injuries or damages to plaintiffs and/or their decedent were directly caused in full or in part by the negligence or fault of plaintiffs and/or their decedent, including their knowing and voluntary encounter with the risks involved, and that this negligence was a substantial factor in causing their purported damages, for which this answering defendant bears no responsibility.”
TMZ claimed the pilot “was going 184 MPH in blinding fog when he crashed into a hill, killing everyone on board.”