Vanessa Bryant Can Be Told Names of Deputies Who Allegedly Took Photo's of Kobe's Crash Site, Judge Rules
The ruling was announced on Monday by U.S. District Judge John F. Walter, who rejected the attempt made by attorneys for the LASD and Los Angeles County who wanted to keep the deputies’ names and ranks sealed, the Los Angeles Times reported.
Vanessa Bryant has won the case to obtain the names of the four Los Angeles County Sheriff Department (LASD) deputies who allegedly took and shared “unauthorized” crash site photos of the helicopter crash that killed her husband, NBA legend Kobe Bryant, their daughter, Gianna and seven others, according to a report.
The ruling was announced on Monday by U.S. District Judge John F. Walter, who rejected the attempt made by attorneys for the LASD and Los Angeles County who wanted to keep the deputies’ names and ranks sealed. The lawyers argued that releasing the names could make them the target of hackers, according to court documents, the Los Angeles Times reported.
The suit alleges a Sheriff’s Department internal affairs report found that one deputy took 25 to 100 photos at the scene and that photos spread quickly by text and phone-sharing technology over the next 48 hours among deputies who showed them to others. The county has claimed that all the photos have been deleted, the Los Angeles Times reported.
Walter said in a ruling on Monday that this is "totally inconsistent with their position that such photographs no longer exist."
The shared photos reportedly included the remains of the children, parents and coaches who died in the Jan. 26, 2020 crash. The amended complaint filed last month provided new details of their alleged behavior in sharing photos of the remains at the Calabasas crash site, the Times reported.
Last month, Bryant called for the sheriff’s department to release the names of the deputies saying that they must be held accountable, CNN reported.
Bryant wrote in a statement on Instagram that “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,” the news outlet reported.
The ruling means Bryant’s lawyers can add the deputies’ names — as well as details from the internal affairs investigation into their conduct — to an amended complaint in the suit against the county and the sheriff’s department, the Times reported.
The lawsuit is seeking damages for negligence, invasion of privacy and emotional distress and alleges deputies and firefighters took and shared photos on their personal cellphones of the nine people who died in the Jan. 26, 2020 helicopter crash, CBS News reported.
Local court rules give the county four days to appeal the ruling, according to the Times.
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