The death of basketball idol Kobe Bryant, 41, at the end of January 2020 left the world in shock and his family – who also lost one of their daughters, Gianna – mired in grief. But far from immobility, his widow, Vanessa, quickly took action on the matter of his death and warned that he was going to act. First, to resolve the blame on how the helicopter accident in which her husband and daughter lost their lives had taken place; later, to find out who had leaked some of the images from the crash site and Bryant’s death. The morbidity of the catastrophe was such that the police had to monitor the area to prevent photographers and scavengers from loitering around the place.
Now, Vanessa Bryant has taken legal action on the matter and has filed a complaint against the assistants of the sheriff from Los Angeles who believes that they released the images of the accident site where her husband and daughter died. If just a month after the accident she was already angry at the dissemination of the photographs, since she had asked the police to protect her privacy and they did not do so, last September she definitively sued the sheriff of Los Angeles, Alex Villanueva, and asked for damages for negligence, because he was caused “emotional pain on an intentional basis” and for the invasion of his right to privacy. Now in your Instagram profile He has posted 12 photographs of the lawsuit he has filed, pointing out the names and surnames of the four men he accuses in striking red.
In his lawsuit, Bryant names four individuals, but also several institutions: Los Angeles County, the Los Angeles Sheriff’s Department, and the city fire department. The four men had already been denounced in September, but a judge this March has allowed their names to be made public, hence the publications of Vanessa Bryant. Something that county attorneys have complained about, arguing that the fact that the identity of these four people is made public can cause confrontations and attacks, especially online.
The lawsuit that he has posted on his profile – where he has more than 14 million followers – explains how Vanessa Bryant’s lawyers spoke with him sheriff Villanueva the same morning of the accident to clearly request that the area be protected in pursuit of family privacy. Now, the legal documents affirm that the security that the police had to provide was “an empty guarantee”, because “the agents of the sheriff who went to the scene of the accident used their mobile phones to take unnecessary photographs of the deceased parents, children and coaches ”.
The lawyers for the Bryant family explain that according to the investigation carried out in the department of sheriff, one of the four defendants “took between 25 and 100 photos of the accident scene on his mobile phone, many of which were not intended to serve the investigation and were focused directly on the victims.” In addition, those images spread “quickly in the department, because the officers passed them to each other by text message and by AirDrop”, a functionality of Apple devices that allows immediate file sharing via Bluetooth without loss of quality . “In 48 hours, at least 10 members of the department had photos of the victims, which remained on their mobile phones despite not having the right to legitimate use of them,” the lawsuit reads.
The accusations in the lawsuit are against some of those four members in particular and, for example, one of them is accused of taking and sharing photos of Kobe and Gianna and sending them to colleagues who did not have a role in the investigation “For no other reason than morbid gossip.” The lawyers also complain that the images were not only shared between members of the department, but were shown, for example, to colleagues from other counties, but also to their mothers, nephews or their fellow video game players, people at all involved in the case. Specifically, they give as an example a waiter in the Californian city of Norwalk who was shown some images two days after the accident, something that that man later recounted and described in detail to other people in the establishment. Someone who overheard that conversation was the one who alerted the authorities.
Eddie is an Australian news reporter with over 9 years in the industry and has published on Forbes and tech crunch.