Vanessa Bryant has sued the Los Angeles Sheriff's Department over leaked photos from the helicopter crash that claimed the lives of her husband, Kobe Bryant, and their 13-year-old daughter, Gianna. "No fewer than 8 sheriff's deputies at the crash site, pulled out their personal cell phones and snapped photos of the dead children, parents and coaches. The deputies took these photos for their own personal gratification," the lawsuit alleges.
Lakers legend Kobe Bryant, Gianna and seven others died Jan. 26, when their helicopter crashed in mountainous area in Calabasas.
The group was flying to a girls' basketball tournament at Bryant's Mamba Sports Academy, where he coached Gianna’s team. The girls were scheduled to play that afternoon.
All onboard perished in the crash. The other victims were Payton Chester, 13, Sarah Chester, 45, Alyssa Altobelli, 14, Keri Altobelli, 46, John Altobelli, 56, Christina Mauser, 38, and pilot Ara Zobayan, 50.
The lawsuit names Los Angeles County Sheriff Alex Villanueva and his department, and claims deputies took personal photographs on their phones.
One deputy showed the photos to a woman he was trying to impress at a bar, the suit alleges. A bartender overheard the exchange and filed a written complaint with the sheriff's department, the complaint alleges.
The department declined comment Tuesday, citing the pending litigation.
Bryant's widow filed a complaint earlier this year against the sheriff and the department, which was a precursor to the lawsuit filed in Los Angeles last week.
Villanueva has has acknowledged eight deputies had taken and shared photos from the crash scene and said he ordered the photos to be destroyed. At least one photo was shared outside the department, he told KNBC-TV in March.
That same month, the department's civilian oversight panel agreed to examine department policies on taking photographs at crime and accident scenes.
"That was my number one priority, to make sure those photos no longer existed,'' Villanueva told NBC4.
The department has not commented on the lawsuit, which seeks unspecified damages.