A federal judge denied a defense motion on Wednesday (Jan. 5) to dismiss Vanessa Bryant’s lawsuit against Los Angeles County. The widow of Kobe Bryant is suing for negligence, intentional infliction of emotional distress, and invasion of privacy after first responders reportedly released unauthorized photos taken at the site of the fatal helicopter crash that claimed the lives of the beloved NBA star as well as their daughter, Gianna Bryant, and seven others.
The photos allegedly include body parts from the victims and were shared on at least 28 devices owned by sheriff’s deputies and a dozen firefighters. L.A. County Sheriff Alex Villanueva reportedly advised deputies to delete the images while L.A. county argues the photos were never shared publicly, according to a report from KABC.
The lawsuit was initially filed in Sept. 2020. Vanessa’s attorney, Luis Li, said in a statement, “This lawsuit is about accountability and about preventing this disgraceful behavior from happening to other families in the future who have suffered loss. The department formally refused Mrs. Bryant’s requests for information saying it was ‘unable to assist’ with any inquiry and had no legal obligation to do so. It’s now for a court to tell the department what its obligations are.”
In June 2021, Vanessa Bryant and the additional plaintiffs settled a wrongful death lawsuit against the company who was responsible for operating the helicopter involved in the deadly 2020 crash. The trial regarding the unauthorized images is tentatively set for next month.