Vanessa Bryant’s lawsuit against Los Angeles County first responders for allegedly taking photos of the crash site where her husband, daughter, and seven others passed away in a tragic helicopter accident will be going to trial.
U.S. District Judge John F. Walter has denied a request by the lawyers of Los Angeles County to dismiss the case in a ruling Wednesday stating that “there are genuine issues of material facts for trial.”
The county’s lawyers argued Bryant’s fear of the crash site photos surfacing is a hypothetical harm. “Plaintiff’s fear is also not reasonable,” said the county, pointing to results from a neutral forensic examination by an independent examiner that “confirmed that there are no photos containing victims’ remains and no evidence of public dissemination. There is therefore nothing for Plaintiff to fear.” They say the photos are “gone” and “cannot be recovered.”
Bryant filed the lawsuit back in September 2020, and it claims photos taken at the scene were shared by county fire and sheriff’s department employees in settings irrelevant to the investigation. The widow of Kobe Bryant had further to say about the matter from Rolling Stone:
“The gratuitous images soon became talked about within the department, as deputies displayed them to colleagues in settings that had nothing to do with investigating the accident. One deputy even used his photos of the victims to try to impress a woman at a bar, bragging about how he had been at the crash site,” her filings allege.
The lawsuit seeks undisclosed damages, claiming civil rights violations, negligence, emotional distress, and violation of privacy.
In a statement to Rolling Stone, Bryant’s lawyer Luis Li said, “This has always been about accountability. We look forward to presenting the facts to a jury.”
Skip Miller, the attorney for LA County, expressed his disappointment with how things went down.
“We respectfully disagree with the court’s ruling,” Skip Miller, an outside attorney for Los Angeles County, said in a statement. “The fact remains that the County did not cause Ms. Bryant’s loss and, as was promised on the day of the crash, none of the County’s accident site photos were ever publicly disseminated.”