The jury selection in Vanessa Bryant‘s lawsuit over the horrific pictures shared at the helicopter crash site of her late husband, Kobe Bryant, and daughter, Gianna, begins Wednesday.
Bryant’s lawsuit alleges that deputies shared the graphic photos of Kobe’s corpse and showed it to bar employees “without any legitimate governmental purpose.” Kobe and Gianna “Gigi” Bryant was killed along with seven others in a deadly helicopter crash in January 2020. The basketball legend was 41 years old, while their beloved daughter was 13.
The suit also alleges that Bryant, 40, holds the constitutional right to the images.
Her biggest fear is that she and her loved ones will have to confront the graphic images online in the future and live in “fear” of seeing the photos.
Bryant found out her husband and daughter were involved in a crash from a family assistant knocking on the door, alerting her of an accident. The assistant was unsure when she asked if Gianna and Kobe were okay. At the same time, Bryant’s phone was going off with notifications saying, “RIP Kobe,” as she tried calling him.
Once learning of their deaths, she asked the Los Angeles County sheriff, “If you can’t bring my husband and baby back, please make sure no one takes photographs of them. Please secure the area.”
The sheriff assured her the area was secure, but less than two months later, The Los Angeles Times reported that multiple Los Angeles sheriff deputies took close-up pictures at the crash site of Kobe and Gianna.
In September 2020, Bryant sued Los Angeles County and the sheriff’s office, alleging the gruesome photos’ circulation brought severe emotional distress.
A bartender testified that a deputy showed him images of Kobe’s corpse from the crash site inside the Norwalk restaurant.
However, defense attorneys argue that no evidence suggests the images were shared publicly. They claim Bryant and Chris Chester, who lost his daughter Payton and wife Sarah in the crash, cannot sue for “hypothetical harm” over the fear that the images could resurface online.
“There is no evidence that County employees have a ‘persistent and widespread’ practice of sharing ‘death images’ within LASD or LACFD,” the county’s attorney said.
The trial will run for two weeks, focusing the first phase on Bryant’s federal claims. She seeks unspecified millions citing emotional stress, invasion of privacy, and negligence.