Vanessa Bryant, the wife of NBA legend Kobe Bryant, is in an ongoing battle in court over photos from the January 2020 helicopter crash that killed her late husband and 13-year-old daughter Gianna. Now, Kobe’s former teammate on the Los Angeles Lakers, Shaquille O’ Neal, is weighing in on the court case and sharing support for Vanessa.
In a recent interview with Entertainment Tonight, the outlet asked Shaq about the ongoing trial that started two weeks ago. The 4-time NBA champion reflected on Kobe Bryant and what his wife is going through following he and their daughter’s tragic deaths.
Allegedly, officers at the scene took photos of the helicopter crash and the victims. The photos were then shared and circulated within the L.A. County Sheriff’s Department. Vanessa Bryant is suing L.A. County for negligence and invasion of privacy because of the crash site photos. As the emotionally-charged court case presses on, Shaq shared words of encouragement for Vanessa. Although he admits the two have never been close, the former Laker fully supports her efforts in court.
“I feel for her,” Shaquille O’ Neal said to ET. “We’ve never talked a lot [but] we’ve always had respect for each other. Every time I see her, it’s a hug, it’s a laugh. But I couldn’t imagine what she’s going through. We live in a world where, especially when it gets to the internet, people don’t care. But those are pictures that I would never, ever want to see, so she’s doing a great thing by holding people responsible.
Vanessa Bryant’s Invasion of Privacy Trial Against L.A. County for Kobe Bryant Crash Photos Underway
On August 10, the first day of trial in Vanessa Bryant’s lawsuit against L.A. County began. The two parties were unable to settle their dispute out of court. Therefore jurors were selected earlier in the week as the case was brought to trial.
In court that Wednesday, Vanessa’s lawyers called the crash photos involving Gianna and Kobe Bryant the product of a “culture of callousness.” Attorney Luis Li alleged that first responders including a fire captain and deputy took photos of the aftermath with their cell phones. Li claims the snapshots only served as “visual gossip” for the agencies and that they were circulated “for a laugh.”
While speaking to the jury, Li said, “[Photos] were shared repeatedly with people who had absolutely no reason to receive them.”
“January 26, 2020, was the worst day of Vanessa Bryant’s life. The county made it much worse,” Li later explained to the jury. “They poured salt in an open wound and rubbed it in.”
Attorney J. Mira Hashmall, who is representing L.A. County, countered saying that “site photography is essential” for first responders canvassing the area. The lawyer added that vital evidence and other information is easily transferable through cellphone communication.
Li responded to that claim with a CCTV clip that shows otherwise. The video captures an off-duty sheriff’s deputy revealing the footage from the helicopter crash to a bartender. In addition, Li entered a photo into evidence of the deputy and bartender laughing together shortly after the officer shared the video.
A week and a half into the trial, the court battle is still ongoing and will continue this week. But the jury will decide soon whether they side with Vanessa Bryant or L.A. County.