Lawyers representing Los Angeles County in their legal battle with Vanessa Bryant say she has turned what would be a “straightforward” case over sheriff’s deputies’ dissemination of her late husband’s and daughter’s crash wreckage into an unnecessary “fishing expedition,” court papers show.
“This straightforward case, with undisputed facts, has turned into a fishing expedition that is taking first responders away from their job – and subject them to public harassment and threats,” states the Monday court filing in the Central District of California. “Defendants are eager to have their day in Court and put an end to this.”
The 39-year-old sued sued the county and the Sheriff’s Department seeking damages for negligence and invasion of privacy, for allegedly sharing graphic photos from the site of the helicopter crash that killed her husband, their daughter, Gianna, and seven others.
County attorneys are asking the court to deny Bryant’s motion as they argue she is delaying developments in the case.
“Plaintiff has not been diligent,” the filing states. “Instead, Plaintiff has stalled the forensic examination for seven months, sought irrelevant and unnecessary discovery, expanded the scope of discovery beyond what this case requires, engaged in nonsensical meet and confer efforts, and needlessly delated setting depositions, conducting discovery and even filing this Motion.”
In Bryant’s lawsuit, she alleges that one deputy took 25 to 100 photos on his personal cell phone that had no value to the investigation. The suit alleges that at least eight deputies snapped cellphone photos. Back in March, she took it to another level by posting the names of four Los Angeles County sheriff’s deputies on an Instagram post, identifying them as being Joey Cruz, Rafael Mejia, Michael Russell and Raul Versales.
“It is undisputed that only government personnel and one friend saw the photographs in question,” the court filing states. “There has been no public dissemination – nothing in the media, nothing on the Internet.”
The lawsuit contends that days after the crash that Cruz “boasted” to a bartender that he’d responded to the scene and showed photos. They included bodies of a girl and of Kobe Bryant, the suit alleges. According to the suit, Cruz also showed the photos to his niece and another bar patron.
“Plaintiff does not need, nor is she entitled to, over 50 depositions,” the filing states. “The parties know who took accident site photographs, who they were shared with, and when they were deleted. That is what this case is about. It is not about what Plaintiff perceives to be inadequacies in the County’s internal investigations and personnel decisions regarding the photographs.”