Vanessa Bryant, Kobe Bryant’s widow, is taking action against the Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department for snapping and releasing photos of the crashsite where Mr. Bryant, their 13-year-old daughter Gianna and seven others were killed in a plane crash on January 26th. According to reports, Mrs. Bryant filed a legal claim against the Sheriff’s Department for the unauthorized release of the photos. She found out that after she spoke to Sheriff Alex Villanueva and requested that no photos were taken and that the site be secured, photos were taken by eight deputies from the department and shared with others.
“In reality, however, no fewer than eight sheriff’s deputies were at the scene snapping cell-phone photos of the dead children, parents, and coaches,” reads the claim that was obtained by PEOPLE. “As the Department would later admit, there was no investigative purpose for deputies to take pictures at the crash site. Rather, the deputies took photos for their own personal purposes.”
The only ones that were permitted to take photos of the scene were the county coroner’s office and investigators with the National Transportation Safety Board. Two Los Angeles firefighters also took unauthorized photos and were instructed to delete them.
“Mrs. Bryant has suffered an immense tragedy by losing her husband and daughter; her grief has been compounded by the severe emotional distress caused by the sheriff’s deputies’ misconduct and the Sheriff’s Department’s mishandling of that misconduct,” the legal claim continues.
A family spokesperson said the purpose of this claim is to enforce accountability and make sure such misconduct doesn’t happen again.
“When a family suffers the loss of loved ones, they have the right to expect that they will be treated with dignity and respect,” the family spokesperson said in a statement. “The Deputies in this case betrayed that sacred trust. This claim is intended to hold the Sheriff’s Department accountable and to prevent future misconduct.”
Mrs. Bryant is seeking damages for emotional distress and mental anguish.