Widow of Kobe Bryant Wins $16 Million for Leaked Photos of Accident That Killed Husband and Daughter | American News



Kobe Bryant’s widow has been awarded $16m (£13.5m) after first responders took and shared graphic photos of the site of the helicopter crash that killed the basketball star , their teenage daughter and seven others.

A federal jury has found Los Angeles County should pay damages for photos of the NBA star’s body on the site of the 2020 helicopter crash that killed him.

The jurors agreed with Vanessa Bryant and her attorneys that her privacy has been invaded when deputies and firefighters took and shared photos of the remains of Bryant and their daughter Gianna.

Ms Bryant testified tearfully during the 11-day trial that news of the photos added to her grief after losing her husband and daughter.

Speaking on the witness stand for more than three hours on Friday, Ms Bryant said she wanted to start mourning the loss of her husband and daughter but was faced with ‘new horror’ after learning of the leaked photos a month after the accident.

“I felt like I wanted to run, run down the block and scream,” she said. “It was like the feeling of wanting to roll down a pier and jump into the water.

“The problem is, I can’t escape. I can’t escape my body.”

Vanessa Bryant, second from left, the widow of the late Kobe Bryant, and her friend Sydney Leroux, right, leave a federal courthouse in Los Angeles on Friday, August 19, 2022. Vanessa Bryant testified Friday that she was only starting to cry the loss of her husband, basketball star Kobe Bryant, and their 13-year-old daughter, Gianna, when she was faced with the new horror of learning that sheriff's deputies and firefighters had taken and shared photos of their bodies at the site of the helicopter crash that killed them.  (AP Photo/Damian Dovarganes)
Bryant (L) leaving the courthouse on Friday. Photo: AP

She told the court she took a phone call about the story from the Los Angeles Times as she held her seven-month-old daughter in her arms and spent time with friends and family. .

“I was caught off guard again, devastated, hurt. I trusted them. I trusted them not to do these things.”

The court heard how a sheriff’s deputy shared the photos of Bryantwith a bartender while he was drinking, and firefighters passed them around at a banquet.

Although the photos have never been made public, Ms Bryant said: “I live in fear every day of being on social media and having these show up. I live in fear of my daughters being on the social networks and that these appear.”

July 27, 2019;  Kobe Bryant is pictured with his daughter Gianna at the WNBA All Star Game at the Mandalay Bay Events Center.  Mandatory Credit: Stephen R. Sylvanie - USA TODAY Sports
Bryant pictured with his daughter Gianna (Photo: Stephen R. Sylvanie-USA TODAY Sports)

According to county attorney J Mira Hashmall, the photos were taken because they were deemed important to the site’s assessment, but after LA County Sheriff Alex Villanueva learned they were shared, he demanded that all copies be deleted.

Later, Ms Hashmall, when cross-examining Ms Bryant, said the deputy who took the photos, Doug Johnson, was only trying to use the photos as part of the investigation.

“You can understand why he would want the same information as you,” Ms Hashmall said.

“I don’t think it’s necessary to take close-up photos of people to determine how many people are on a plane,” Ms. Bryant replied. “I think he could have counted.”


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