EIGHT officers from the LA County Sheriff’s Department took photos of the grisly crash site where Kobe Bryant and his daughter Gianna were killed, a lawsuit claims.
The deputies allegedly snapped photos of the dead children, their parents and coaches, according to the lawsuit filed last year by Vanessa Bryant in Los Angeles.
“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,” says the lawsuit, which TMZ obtained a copy of.
“The deputies took these photos for their own personal gratification.”
Los Angeles County has now hit back in new court documents asking Vanessa to undergo a psychiatric evaluation to determine whether or not she’s actually been as distressed as she’s claimed.
USA Today reports the filings read: “Despite putting their mental condition front and center in this case, Plaintiffs refuse to submit to independent medical examinations (IMEs).
“…The County brings this motion to compel IMEs of the Plaintiffs, which are necessary to evaluate the existence, extent and nature of Plaintiffs’ alleged emotional injuries.
“Plaintiffs cannot claim that they are suffering from ongoing depression, anxiety and severe emotional distress and then balk at having to support their claims.”
Vanessa’s attorneys slammed the request, calling out the county for trying to force the evaluations on all of the surviving family, including “four teenagers, a 10-year-old child, and a 5-year-old kindergartener.”
The lawyers added in their response filings: “The County has resorted to scorched-earth discovery tactics designed to bully Plaintiffs into abandoning their pursuit of accountability.”
Vanessa’s original lawsuit filing also alleges the crash photos were a topic of discussion within the sheriff’s department, as deputies allowed their colleagues to see the photos that had no investigative purpose.
A deputy showed off the crash site pics to a woman he was trying to impress at a bar, the lawsuit claims.
That’s when a bartender overheard the conversation and blew the whistle by reporting the information to the sheriff’s department.
In Vanessa’s lawsuit, she claims Sheriff Alex Villanueva attempted to cover up the misconduct by going to the department substation that responded to the crash and told deputies they’d get off scot-free if they deleted the photos.
Villanueva allegedly didn’t tell the victims’ families about the images – their loved ones only learned of the scandal in the media after the story broke, according to the lawsuit.
The suit claims the Sheriff never gave the family clear answers, and now Vanessa lives in constant fear that the devastating photos will leak to the public.
“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 documents said.
On August 24, 2022, a unanimous jury determined that Los Angeles County must pay Vanessa $16million over the photos.
The jury also awarded $15million to Vanessa’s co-plaintiff, Chris Chester, who lost his wife and daughter in the crash.
Included among the keepsakes are the NBA star’s high school jersey and warmups, which she said their family didn’t get back until 2013.
Among the other items are the Adidas sneakers Kobe wore during his championship run with the Los Angeles Lakers and the champagne-soaked locker room t-shirt he wore after winning the championship in 2001.
“I keep EVERYTHING for my baby and our girls,” she added.
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The NBA icon and his 13-year-old daughter tragically died in a helicopter crash on January 26, 2020.
Kobe and Gigi were on their way to the Mamba Academy for basketball practice when the private helicopter went down in the Calabasas mountains northwest of Los Angeles.
Seven other passengers were also killed in the fiery crash.