Vanessa Bryant Sues L.A. County Sheriff Office Over Leaking Images of Helicopter Crash

by Chris Haney
Photo by JEAN-BAPTISTE LACROIX/AFP via Getty Images

Vanessa Bryant is suing the L.A. County Sheriff’s Department for emotional distress due to deputies that leaked photos from her husband Kobe’s helicopter crash in January.

NBA star Kobe Bryant, and daughter Gigi, both died alongside 7 others in a tragic helicopter crash in Calabasas, CA. There were no survivors from the incident.

Bryant’s wife, Vanessa, is now suing the L.A. sheriff’s office claiming they caused her severe emotional distress. Specifically, because deputies at the scene took personal cellphone photos of the bodies of Kobe and Gigi that could leak online.

According to the lawsuit, “no fewer than 8 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.”

Additionally, the lawsuit says the photos were the subject of conversation within the sheriff’s office. Supposedly, deputies showed their co-workers the photos even though they had no investigative purpose.

The lawsuit explains how the public found about the leaked pictures. A deputy at a bar showed the photos to a woman he was trying to impress. The bartender overheard the two talking and notified the sheriff’s department about the issue.

Vanessa Bryant Claims There Was a Cover-Up

Bryant says in the lawsuit that L.A. Sheriff Alex Villanueva tried to cover-up the leaked photos. Allegedly, Villanueva told deputies who responded to the crash that if they deleted their photos they would not face discipline.

The suit claims the intent of Villanueva’s talk was destruction of evidence.  In addition, Villanueva did not tell the families about the photos. In fact, they learned of it through the media as the story broke that deputies took the photos.

Bryant’s lawsuit says Villanueva never gave her family direct answers. Consequently, Vanessa is now in constant fear the photos will leak of her famous husband and their daughter.

“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.”

The lawsuit is seeking unspecified damages, including punitive damages.