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Vanessa Bryant Awarded $16M in Kobe Crash Photo Lawsuit Against L.A. County

Luis Sinco / LA Times via Getty Images

Vanessa Bryant won her lawsuit contrary to the LA County Sheriff and Fire Departments over photos taken at the scene of the helicopter crash that killed her husband, Kobe Bryant, and 13-year-old daughter, Gianna Bryant, and seven others in Calabasas, California, in January 2020.

A jury awarded Bryant $16 million, in accordance with TMZ Sports. Chris Chester, who lost his wife and daughter in the crash, was awarded $15 million.

“All for you personally! I really like you! JUSTICE for Kobe and Gigi,” Bryant wrote on Instagram Wednesday.

On Friday, Bryant testified in court that she was “blindsided, devastated, hurt and betrayed” upon learning from the February 2020 LA Times report that first responders had taken photos of Kobe and Gianna at the scene of the crash.

“I felt like I needed to perform down the block and scream,” Bryant said. “I cannot escape my own body. I cannot escape what Personally i think.”

She added: “I trusted them. I trusted them never to do these exact things.”

Bryant was suing L.A. County Sheriff Alex Villanueva, his department and the L.A. County Fire Department.

She said in the lawsuit that the initial responders’ actions caused her severe emotional distress. She also testified that when the photos were made public, it might be devastating on her behalf and her family.

Based on the lawsuit obtained by TMZ Sports, at the very least eight sheriff’s deputies took photos at the crash site on the personal cellphones.

“The deputies took these photos for his or her own private gratification,” the lawsuit read.

Since sharing the photos, the majority of the sheriff’s deputies have gotten new phones and the photos have already been deleted, in accordance with Alene Tchekmedyian of the LA Times.

To summarize arguments Wednesday, L.A. County attorney Mira Hashmall said that deleting the photos “led to them never being distributed publicly” and argued that “first responders taking photos didn’t violate Bryant’s rights,” in accordance with CNN.

“She urged the jury to take into account regulations, which only permits a verdict contrary to the county if it could be proven county policies were deficient enough to avoid the spread of the photos or when there is a longstanding custom of such behavior within the sheriff and fire departments,” CNN wrote.

In reaction to the photos being taken, California Gov. Gavin Newsom signed an invasion-of-privacy bill in September 2020 called the “Kobe Bryant Act,” that makes it illegal for first responders to talk about photos of the deceased at a crime scene unless it’s for official police purposes.

On a single day Vanessa Bryant received the verdict, just one single day after Kobe’s Aug. 23 birthday, LA was celebrating the life span of the Lakers legend on “Kobe Bryant Day”8/24, for both numbers he wore during his historic NBA career.

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