Vanessa Bryant broke down in a federal courtroom today (August 10) as her lawyer described the graphic photos a sheriff’s deputy shared with random people at a bar two days after Kobe Bryant and their 14-year-old daughter Gianna died in a helicopter crash in January 2020.
As we previously reported, the widow is suing LA county for invasion and privacy and negligence, causing severe emotional distress due to the leaked images.
Per Rolling Stone, lawyer Luis Li showed jurors a video of Deputy Cruz seated at the bar holding his cell phone up to a bartender to show him something, to which the bartender visibly recoils at what he sees and walks away.
“County employees exploited the accident,” Li said. “They took and shared pictures of Kobe and Gianna as souvenirs. …They poured salt in an unhealable wound.”
Li said that first responders “walked around the wreckage and took pictures of broken bodies from the helicopter crash. They took close-ups of limbs, of burnt flesh. It shocks the conscience.”
“This case is about accountability. We’re going to prove to you that county employees took pictures and shared them widely,” Li continued. She said that the images were shared in so many ways to so many people, that there is no guarantee a leak won’t happen sometime in the future. County officials argued the case has no legal merit because the photos haven’t been leaked to the public.
Li says Vanessa lives “in fear, anxiety and terror” that someday she and her family will see the photos.
California Governor Gavin Newsom signed the Kobe Bryant Act following the tragedy, making it a crime for first responders to share photos of a dead person at a crime scene for purposes unrelated to the case.