Vanessa Bryant sued Los Angeles County Sheriff Alex Villanueva and his department, alleging that law enforcement agencies released unauthorized photographs of the helicopter crash in which her husband, Kobe Bryant, her 13-year-old daughter, Gianna Bryant, and several others died in January 2020.
After the tragedy, photos of the Laker icon and her daughter were allegedly leaked and shared online.
After the lawsuit, which was filed, Vanessa learned of the death of her husband and daughter from an “employee of Kobe Inc.
Vanessa affirms that she was not contacted by the authorities because of the helicopter accident, which, according to the file, left her feeling “confused and desperate.”
The complaint also states that “as many as eight sheriff’s deputies at the crash site took out their personal cell phones and took pictures of the dead children, parents and trainers. The deputies took these photos for their personal satisfaction”.
In addition, Vanessa also claims that law enforcement agencies not related to the case shared photos of the accident “outside the department”.
The lawsuit states: “The week after the accident, an assistant intern showed photos of the victims’ remains at the Baja California Bar & Grill in Norwalk, California – nearly 50 miles from the accident. Shortly thereafter, a witness filed an online complaint that alerted authorities to the incident.
Vanessa also claims that Sheriff Villanueva did not initiate an investigation into the leaked photos, and instead allegedly asked the MPs to “delete the photos” and stated that they “would not be subject to any discipline” if they did.
According to the complaint, Villanueva did not inform the families of the victims about the “misconduct” of the law enforcement officials or about the “existence of the photos. Vanessa affirms that she only learned of the existence of the disclosed photos after seeing them in all the media.
While Mr. Villanueva assured that Vanessa’s photographers would not take pictures of the accident, he did not assure that his own department would not do so.
Vanessa, according to the complaint, “feels uncomfortable about strangers looking at pictures of her late husband and child, and she lives in fear that one day she or her children will be confronted online with horrific images of their loved ones.
The complaint seeks unspecified damages, including punitive damages.
With respect to the lawsuit, LASD issued a statement on Tuesday, September 22.
“Shortly after this tragic accident, Sheriff Villanueva sponsored legislation that now criminalizes public safety personnel from taking or sharing unofficial photos of this type,” the statement said. “Because of the swift action we took in exceptional circumstances, no images have reached the public domain,” the statement said. We continue to express our deepest sympathy to the victims and their families.
In May, Vanessa took the first step by initiating proceedings regarding unauthorized photos of her husband and daughter, NBA stars, she said. According to records at the time, she sought damages for the emotional stress and distress that arose after L.A. County Sheriff’s Department deputies took and shared photos of the victims.
“This filing is about accountability, protecting victims and ensuring that no one will have to deal with this behavior in the future,” a Bryant family spokesman told People. “When a family suffers the loss of loved ones, they have a right to expect to be treated with dignity and respect.
“Members of Parliament have abused this sacred trust in this case,” the statement continued. “This allegation should help bring the Sheriff’s Department to justice and prevent future misconduct.
In March, Villanueva appeared on NBC’s “Today” program and reportedly talked about the deputy trainee who allegedly forwarded photos of the accident to a bar. He confirmed that they were investigating the incident.
“Being betrayed by one of our own is discouraging,” Villanueva said at the time.
Credits: E News