How Vanessa Bryant won part of a stunning $31-million victory involving gruesome Kobe crash photos
The revelation triggered a major scandal at the Sheriff’s Department that culminated Wednesday, when a jury ordered Los Angeles County to pay Vanessa Bryant, widow of Lakers star Kobe Bryant, and another man $31 million in damages.
The trial marked the culmination of an intensely personal, two-year legal fight for Vanessa Bryant and Chris Chester, who lost his daughter and wife in the crash. Bryant often expressed outrage over the conduct of deputies.
On the witness stand last week, Bryant said she had been watching TV with family at home when she learned that Los Angeles County sheriff’s deputies had shared gruesome photos of the helicopter crash that killed her husband and the couple’s 13-year-old daughter, Gianna.
“I bolted out of the house,” Vanessa Bryant testified Friday in federal court in Los Angeles. Once she found a spot where her other three daughters could not hear her, she said, “I broke down and cried, and I wanted to run down the block and just scream.”
Bryant said she felt betrayed by deputies she had trusted to protect her family.
“I expected them to have more compassion — respect,” Bryant testified. “My husband and my daughter deserve dignity.”
During the trial, her lawyers documented how the photos had spread from the phones of deputies and firefighters at the crash scene on a steep hillside in Calabasas: They were flashed from a sheriff’s deputy’s phone screen to a bartender in Norwalk. They were shown to firefighters and their spouses during an awards gala at a hotel in Universal City in what amounted, one witness said, to a “party trick.” They were passed from one deputy to another as the pair played video games.
After the verdict, Vanessa Bryant posted a photo on Instagram of her, Kobe and Gigi with the caption: “All for you! I love you. JUSTICE for Kobe and Gigi.”
Here is a summary of The Times reporting on the crash photo scandal:
L.A. Sheriff’s Department says it is looking into reports that deputies shared graphic images of the Kobe Bryant helicopter crash scene.
For nearly five weeks, the leadership of the Sheriff’s Department tried to keep a lid on the episode instead of following normal investigative protocols.
After deputies shared the photos, they were ordered to come to a station and delete them, Sheriff Alex Villanueva told a TV station.
Sheriff’s order to deputies to delete Kobe helicopter crash photos might get them jailed, captain warned
The Los Angeles Times first reported allegations that deputies were sharing graphic crash photos. Vanessa Bryant’s lawyer has asked for an investigation.
The shifting stories and sudden amnesia were among several inconsistencies and contradictions that lawyers for Vanessa Bryant focused on in the trial’s fourth day.
A high-profile trial begins over L.A. County Sheriff’s deputies’ sharing photos of the crash that killed Kobe Bryant.
Vanessa Bryant’s appearance came on the eighth day of a trial in her federal lawsuit against L.A. County over gruesome photos of the helicopter crash that killed Kobe Bryant.
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