Vanessa Bryant Sues LA County Sheriff’s Department Over Helicopter Crash Photos

NEW YORK, NY - APRIL 22, 2017: Vanessa Laine Bryant and Kobe Bryant attend Animated Shorts curated by Whoopi Goldberg during the 2017 Tribeca Film Festival at SVA Theatre — Photo by SharpShooter

Vanessa Bryant is suing the Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department over “unauthorized” photos taken at the site of the helicopter crash that left nine people dead, including her husband Kobe Bryant and 13-year-old daughter Gianna on Jan. 26.

The lawsuit was filed last Thursday in Los Angeles Superior Court, according to the Los Angeles Times.

The suit alleges “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.”

As previously reported, a deputy trainee is accused of sharing gruesome photos with a woman at a bar after the crash, according to a bartender who witnessed the interaction and then filed a complaint with the department.

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After the media revealed earlier this year that the photos had been taken, Sheriff Alex Villanueva admitted eight deputies were involved, and said he ordered them to destroy the pictures.

“That was my number one priority, to make sure those photos no longer existed,” Villanueva previously said.

Still, the lawsuit accuses the sheriff of trying to cover up the photo leak, by going to the sheriff’s station near the crash site and telling deputies if they deleted the pictures they would not face discipline.

The lawsuit names the Los Angeles County government, the sheriff’s department and Villanueva as defendants.

In May, Vanessa Bryant filed a claim against the Sheriff’s department over the photos. The claim was one of the steps before a lawsuit could be filed.

California legislators have now passed a bill that would make it a crime for a first responder to take a picture of a deceased person for any reason other than official business.