Vanessa Bryant filed a lawsuit against the Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department in September of 2020 after employees allegedly used their cellphones to take pictures of her late husband and the crash site. Currently, the trial is ongoing.
In January of 2020, basketball legend Kobe Bryant and his teenage daughter Gianna lost their lives following an unexpected helicopter accident in the Calabasas Hills. The crash was devastating in nature, but Kobe’s wife suffered a shocking turn of events when she discovered Los Angeles county employees were sharing photos of the crash site with unauthorized personnel. After this discovery, she filed a lawsuit on the grounds of emotional distress.
“Mrs. Bryant feels ill at the thought that sheriff’s deputies, firefighters, and members of the public have gawked at gratuitous images of her deceased husband and child,” the lawsuit states, arguing that Vanessa suffered emotional turmoil due to the misaction of county workers. “She lives in fear that she or her children will one day confront horrific images of their loved ones online.”
The trial began last Wednesday in Los Angeles with a handful of first responders taking to the stand and explaining their involvement in the crash.
Former Los Angeles Fire Department captain and safety officer Brian Jordan was among the responders accused of taking explicit photographs, but he testified that he was ordered to do so by his superior, Fire Chief Anthony Marrone.
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“I followed many instructions that day but was told ‘take pictures, take pictures, take pictures,’” he said to the court.
However, he shared that since the accident, he has repressed memories of the day due to trauma and has a limited recollection of being at the site. Jordan explained, “I was there. I do not remember being there. Please stop describing the scene to me…Please refrain from taking my brain back to that crash site. I’m not sure what I was taking pictures of.”
Jordan began exhibiting signs of stress in the midst of the trial and even had to step away from the stand on multiple occasions. “I need a break, I need a break,” he stated when asked if he had taken photos of Bryant’s body.
Former fire department worker testifies that he experienced mental distress following the Kobe Bryant helicopter crash scence
“I had an image in my head that was not pleasant,” the former county employee relayed after returning to the stand. Arguing that he was also suffering emotional distress from viewing the crash site, he commented, “There are these images I’ve been living with every day … The way that whole scene looked is going to haunt me forever.”
As of now, lawyers for the county believe the Bryant lawsuit lacks merits since photos of the site were never leaked to the public.
“The county continues to express its deepest sympathies for the families that suffered this terrible loss,” county lawyer Mira Hashmall told Rolling Stone in reference to Bryant’s lawsuit. “The county has also worked tirelessly for two and half years to make sure its site photos of the crash were never publicly disseminated. The evidence shows they never were. And that is the fact, not speculation.”
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