Vanessa Bryant has sued the L.A. County Sheriff and his department, saying she endured severe emotional distress after deputies allegedly took graphic cellphone photos of Kobe and Gigi Bryant’s bodies at the helicopter crash site.
According to TMZ, the lawsuit says that “no fewer than eight sheriff’s deputies at the crash site, pulled out their personal cell phones and snapped photos of the dead children, parents, and coaches. The deputies took these photos for their own personal gratification.”
The lawsuit also claims that the photos were discussed in the sheriff’s department and that the deputies showed the cellphone images to coworkers even though they had no investigative use.
The lawsuit includes how the photos were brought to light: when a deputy showed them to a woman at a bar whom he was trying to impress. The bartender overheard their conversation and told the sheriff’s department.
Bryant also says in the suit that’s when Sheriff Alex Villanueva attempted to cover the department’s indiscretion up by telling the deputies that they wouldn’t be punished if they deleted the photos. The suit alleges that his interference was destruction of evidence—and that instead of Villanueva notifying the families about the photos, they found out about them through the media when the story broke.
The lawsuit also claims that Villanueva was never forthcoming about the incident and now Bryant is afraid the photos will leak: “Ms. Bryant feels ill at the thought of strangers gawking at images of her deceased husband and child, and she lives in fear that she or her children will one day confront horrific images of their loved ones online.”
Bryant is seeking unspecific damages, as well as punitive damages.