After numerous delays, Vanessa Bryant’s court case against Los Angeles County is currently on the move. Bryant is suing the county over photos of the helicopter crash site of Gianna and Kobe Bryant, which were reportedly taken and distributed by rescuers who arrived at the scene. Vanessa claims that as a result of the current situation, she experienced “emotional distress.” The trial involved a number of notable events, and most recently, the deputy sheriff who reportedly took the photos testified, saying he “did nothing wrong.”
Last week, Deputy Sheriff Doug Johnson testified in federal court, where he spoke about the photos he took at the scene of a helicopter crash in Calabasas in 2020. A total of 25 photos were taken. According to CBS News Los Angeles, some of the images show body parts in close-up. Johnson testified that he sent the photos to the deputy command post in a text message. He also said he sent the photos to an unidentified district fire chief.
Further, Doug Johnson said that he did not consider it unprofessional to store photos on his personal mobile phone, which, according to him, he lost a year later in Las Vegas. According to him, the distribution of such photos among district officials is “common practice.” The deputy sheriff went on to say that “photographs are the most accurate and thorough way to document” the crash sites and that he had used his phone in similar situations “thousands of times.” Johnson also stated that later that night he deleted the images from his camera along with a text chain with the deputy command post.
Lawyers for Vanessa Bryant and Christopher Chester, who lost their wife and daughter in a plane crash, claimed that after a law enforcement official sent out the images, they were sent to at least 10 other people. They also claim that the said persons allegedly sent them to other members of the public. It is reported that during the trial, Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Deputy Joey Cruz showed photos to visitors of the bar/grill. At the same time, in court, bartender Victor Gutierrez said that he laughed when he was shown the images, denying it.
Much has been said about the personal consequences of the 2020 tragedy for Vanessa Bryant. In addition to the photos taken by the first defendants, her legal team also brought mocking social media posts to the proceedings. However, the only messages that can be used are those that were sent to her after the news of the death of Kobe, Gianna and the other seven passengers of the helicopter became known.
Kobe Bryant’s photos have led to several other legal situations, including a lawsuit filed by the aforementioned Christopher Chester. Like Bryant’s widow, Chester is suing for negligence and invasion of privacy because of the photos taken. At one point, it seemed that the two cases could be combined, although Los Angeles County argued that Chester, so to speak, could not ride on Vanessa’s “coattails”. Another lawsuit was also filed by the Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department union in connection with the publication of the final internal affairs reports on the crash. However, the case involving Bryant has since been settled.
Testimony in the case of Vanessa Bryant and Los Angeles County is scheduled to continue today. If the judge finds flaws in the distribution of the photos and rules in her favor at the end of the trial, Bryant could receive millions of dollars, which she is now looking for.