Judge makes key ruling in Vanessa Bryant’s lawsuit over crash photos
Vanessa Bryant filed a lawsuit last year over unauthorized photos that were taken at the site where her husband Kobe and daughter Gianna died in a helicopter crash. On Monday, a judge ruled in her favor on a key issue related to the case.
Some of the photos in question were taken by Los Angeles County sheriff’s deputies. Lawyers for the department had filed a motion to keep the deputies’ names under seal, arguing that releasing the names would make the deputies’ addresses and personal information accessible and that hackers could target them. According to Richard Winton of the Los Angeles Times, U.S. District Judge John F. Walter ruled against the Sheriff’s Department on Monday.
Bryant’s attorney Luis Li argued that “transparency promotes accountability,” and Walter agreed. The judge said “the public has a vested interest in assessing the truthfulness of the allegations of official misconduct” when the case involves police officers.
Further, the L.A. County Sheriff’s Department has insisted that the photos that were taken at the crash site have been disposed of and/or deleted from electronic devices and no longer exist. Walter said in his ruling that the department’s concern that hackers could locate the photographs if they learned the identities of the deputies is “totally inconsistent with their position that such photographs no longer exist.”
The lawsuit filed by Bryant seeks damages for negligence and invasion of privacy. The suit alleges that deputies and two LA firefighters took and shared photos of the victims of the crash, which took place on Jan. 26, 2020.