Vanessa Bryant has revealed the names of the sheriff’s deputies accused of taking and leaking photos of the scene of the helicopter crash that killed her husband, NBA superstar Kobe Bryant. After receiving permission from the court to share the names publicly, Vanessa posted a series of photos of legal documents on Instagram last night (March 17).
According to CNN, the posted photos are of an amended complaint that Vanessa filed in U.S. District Court in Los Angeles on Wednesday. The complaint names four Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department deputies — Joey Cruz, Rafael Mejia, Michael Russell and Raul Versales — who allegedly took or shared photos of the crash site. The complaint also names Los Angeles County and its sheriff and fire departments as defendants. Vanessa is seeking damages for the complaint, citing negligence and invasion of privacy.
According to the complaint, Deputy Cruz “boasted that he had worked at the scene of the accident where Kobe Bryant had died.” The document alleges Cruz showed pictures of the crash site and Kobe’s remains to “multiple individuals,” including his niece and a bartender. The bartender then discussed the photos and “described specific characteristics of Mr. Bryant’s remains” with customers, the complaint reads.
One customer found this “very, very disturbing” and emailed the sheriff’s department with a description of the deputy. The complaint states that another deputy, Russell, allegedly shared the photos with a friend with whom he “plays video games nightly.”
Legal teams representing the LASD and Los Angeles County previously tried to keep deputies’ names sealed, arguing that “hackers” may attempt to infiltrate deputies’ devices and post photos of them. However, Vanessa won the right to share the names earlier this month.
“Mrs. Bryant looks forward to presenting her case in open court,” Vanessa’s attorney said in a statement to CNN.
President of the Association for Los Angeles Deputy Sheriffs, Ron Hernandez, said, “We respect the judge’s decision. Our main concern is for the privacy of all parties involved.”
See Vanessa’s posts below.