Kobe Bryant’s widow sues LA sheriff’s department over release of graphic crash photos

A lawsuit filed by the widow of NBA star Kobe Bryant over photos taken of his body immediately after his death will begin Wednesday US time in Los Angeles.

Vanessa Bryant is suing the LA County Sheriff’s Department and the city’s fire department for invasion of privacy, seeking unspecified millions in compensation for pictures taken of the basketballer’s body that were circulated after he was killed in a helicopter crash with their daughter and seven others in 2020.

Mrs Bryant claims deputies did not take the photos for investigative purposes, and shared them with firefighters who responded to the crash scene. The lawsuit says a deputy showed the photos to bar patrons and a firefighter showed them to off-duty colleagues.

“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,” according to the lawsuit.

“She lives in fear that she or her children will one day confront horrific images of their loved ones online.”

Kobe Bryant, their 13-year-old daughter, Gianna, and other parents and players were flying to a girls’ basketball tournament when their chartered helicopter crashed in the Calabasas hills, west of Los Angeles, in fog.

Federal safety officials later blamed pilot error for the wreck.

Firefighters at the scene of the helicopter crash that killed NBA star Kobe Bryant, along with his daughter and seven others, in January 2020.(AP Photo: Mark J Terrill)

Mrs Bryant has also sued the helicopter charter company and the deceased pilot’s estate.

The county has argued that Mrs Bryant has suffered emotional distress from the deaths, not the photos, which were ordered deleted by Sheriff Alex Villanueva.

It said the photos have never been in the media, on the internet nor otherwise publicly disseminated, and the lawsuit is speculative about harm she might suffer.

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