Yesterday (Feb. 28), the family of the late Kobe Bryant and Los Angeles County settled the outstanding claims from lawsuits filed against deputies and firefighters who texted disturbing photos of Kobe, his late 13-year-old daughter Gianna Bryant, and other victims who died in the January 26, 2020, helicopter crash, amongst each other. The agreed-upon amount now stands at a total of $28.5 million after a jury found that Vanessa Bryant suffered severe emotional distress from the death scene photos captured and awarded her $16 million last August.
“Today marks the successful culmination of Mrs. Bryant’s courageous battle to hold accountable those who engaged in this grotesque conduct,” the family’s attorney Luis Li said in a statement. “She fought for her husband, her daughter, and all those in the community whose deceased family were treated with similar disrespect.”
Vanessa’s trial began on Aug. 10, 2022. During the hearing, details of the horrific aftermath of the January 2020 crash were revealed. The filed lawsuit alleged deputies on the scene had taken pictures and shared them with family, friends, and strangers. Vanessa also testified that law enforcement informed her they would secure the scene. She was devastated to discover her daughter was “violated” by those who took pictures of her. She revealed that thoughts of the crash site photos possibly surfacing has left her suffering from anxiety.
A month later, the Los Angeles Sheriff’s Department released a statement. “Shortly following this tragic crash, Sheriff Alex Villanueva sponsored legislation which now makes it a crime for public safety personnel to take or share non-official pictures of this nature,” the statement read. “As a result of the swift actions we took under extraordinary circumstances, no pictures made it into the public arena. We continue to offer our heartfelt sympathies for the victims and their families.”
AP News says the new agreement “resolves any future claims by Bryant’s three surviving daughters, related issues pending in state court, and other costs.” A judge must sign off on a proposed order filed with the federal courts. After calling the statement “fair and reasonable,” Mira Hashmall, the attorney representing LA County, said, “We hope Ms. Bryant and her children continue to heal from their loss.”