Deputies who shared Kobe Bryant crash photos can be named, judge rules
Vanessa Bryant wins case to obtain names of deputies who allegedly took photos of crash site.
Vanessa Bryant, the widow of NBA legend Kobe Bryant sued the Los Angeles County Sheriff Department last year after photos of her deceased husband emerged from the site of the helicopter crash that killed him, their daughter, Gianna, and seven others.
On Monday, a judge ruled that the names of the deputies who allegedly shared the photos can be released publicly.
U.S. District Judge John F. Walter ruled against the LASD and Los Angeles County who argued that the names should be kept secret because “hackers may attempt to seek out and gain access to the individual deputies’ devices to locate any photographs and publish them.”
However, the judge ruled that the argument was inconsistent with the position that the photographs no longer exist after the LASD said the photos had been deleted.
In a statement on Instagram, Bryant said, “The Sheriff’s Department wants to redact the names of the deputies that took and/or shared photos of my husband, daughter, and other victims.
“Anyone else facing allegations would be unprotected, named, and released to the public. … These specific deputies need to be held accountable for their actions just like everyone else.”
Mrs. Bryant’s attorney applauded the ruling saying, “Transparency promotes accountability. We look forward to presenting Mrs. Bryant’s case in open Court.”
Bryant is suing the department for damages claiming the LASD violated the victims’ civil rights, were negligent, and inflicted emotional distress, and violated the privacy of the crash victims.
In February of last year, the Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department wrote on Facebook that Sheriff Alex Villanueva was “deeply disturbed at the thought deputies could allegedly engage in such an insensitive act. A thorough investigation will be conducted by the Department, with the number one priority of protecting the dignity and privacy of the victims and their families.”
The outcome of that investigation has not been shared with the public.
Kobe and Gianna Bryant and six of their friends were killed when their helicopter crashed outside of Calabasas, California. Federal investigators concluded last month that the pilot “pushed his limits” to complete the flight in bad weather. The pilot, Ara Zobayan was also killed in the accident.
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