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.”
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.”
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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