Vanessa Bryant can now obtain and publicly share the names of the four Los Angeles County sheriff’s deputies who leaked photos of the tragic helicopter crash that killed her husband Kobe Bryant, daughter Gianna Bryant and seven others.
According to the Los Angeles Times, U.S. District Judge John F. Walter ruled in favor of Vanessa, allowing her to use the names in an amended lawsuit against the sheriff’s department and L.A. County.
“Indeed where the case involves allegations of police misconduct, the public has a vested interest in assessing the truthfulness of the allegations of official misconduct, and whether agencies that are responsible for investigating and adjudicating complaints of misconduct have acted properly and wisely,” he wrote, noting the public scrutiny and potential “social media attacks” are not sufficient reasons to conceal the names of the officers.
Additionally, Walter said the deputies’ concerns that their devices may be hacked in search of the images are “totally inconsistent with their position that such photographs no longer exist.”
Vanessa initially filed a lawsuit against Sheriff Villaneuva and the Los Angeles Sheriff’s Department in September, seeking damages for negligence, invasion of privacy and emotional distress in connection to the unauthorized release of Kobe’s crash photos. In February, she took to social media to request the disclosure of those responsible for revealing the images — which have since been deleted, per the county.
“The Sheriff’s Department wants to redact the names of the deputies that took and/or shared photos of my husband, daughter and other victims,” Vanessa wrote in a statement posted on Instagram. “Anyone else facing allegations would be unprotected, named and released to the public...These specific deputies need to be held accountable for their actions just like everyone else.”
Following Walter’s ruling, the Los Angeles County lawyers — who wanted to protect the deputies from online vitriol and hackers — have four days to make an appeal.