Vanessa Bryant is reportedly suing the Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department for taking and allegedly leaking photos of the crash site where her husband and daughter — Kobe and Gianna Bryant — died this January. Eight deputies were accused of taking photos of the site for non-investigative purposes back in March.
According to the lawsuit, obtained by TMZ, “no fewer than eight sheriff’s deputies at the crash site pulled out their personal cell phones and snapped photos of the dead children, parents and coaches. The deputies took these photos for their own personal gratification.”
The suit notes that the deputies’ possession of the photos was revealed when one officer showed the pictures to a woman at a bar who he was reportedly trying to impress. A bartender overheard the deputy and reported the incident to the sheriff’s department.
“Ms. Bryant feels ill at the thought of strangers gawking at images of her deceased husband and child and she lives in fear that she or her children will one day confront horrific images of their loved ones online,” the suit reads.
Vanessa is also suing Sheriff Alex Villanueva, who she believes covered up the photo controversy. Villanueva confirmed that eight deputies had taken pictures of the crash site in March and said he made sure they were deleted.
“That was my No. 1 priority, was to make sure those photos no longer exist,” he told NBC News at the time. “We identified the deputies involved; they came to the station on their own and had admitted they had taken them and they had deleted them. And we’re content that those involved did that.’’
However, Vanessa’s lawsuit claims that by instructing his deputies to delete the photos, Villanueva was actually destroying evidence of their wrongdoing. Furthermore, Vanessa says she and the other families only learned about the photos through media reports, not from Villanueva.
The lawsuit notes that Vanessa has suffered sever emotional distress from the photos and is seeking unspecified, punitive damages.