Vanessa Bryant sued L.A. County for damages for emotional distress and mental anguish in relation to an alleged leak of images of Kobe and Gianna Bryant after their deaths.
The trial for Vanessa Bryant’s lawsuit against Los Angeles County regarding pictures taken at the helicopter crash site where Kobe Bryant died began this past Wednesday. In his opening statements, Vanessa’s lawyer Luis Li shared the emotional impact the images have had on the NBA great’s widow.
Li claimed the cellphone photos of the crash scene, shot by a deputy and fire captain, were “visual gossip” viewed “for a laugh” and had no official purpose.
“They were shared by deputies playing video games,” Li said, per ESPN. “They were shared repeatedly with people who had absolutely no reason to receive them.”
Li said a witness accused Deputy Joey Cruz of showing disturbing images of Kobe that were on his phone while at a local bar. He went to show the jury footage of Deputy Cruz at the Baja California Bar & Grill in Norwalk. In the clip, the officer appears to show a bartender something on his cell phone. The bartender then walked away.
“January 26, 2020, was and always will be the worst day of Vanessa Bryant’s life,” Li reportedly told the jury. “County employees exploited the accident. They took and shared pictures of Kobe and Gianna as souvenirs. …They poured salt in an unhealable wound.”
He added 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.”
He then let the jury hear audio of an officer stating that his wife did not want to see the images after he said they were “piles of meat,” according to Rolling Stone.
On Jan. 26, 2020, Kobe and 13-year-old daughter Gianna Bryant tragically passed away in a helicopter crash that also claimed the lives of 13-year-old Payton Chester, Sarah Chester, 46, 14-year-old Alyssa Altobelli, Keri Altobelli, 46, John Altobelli, 56, Christina Mauser, 38, and pilot Ara Zobayan, 50.