Vanessa Bryant reveals names of deputies who allegedly shared photos of helicopter crash site

Vanessa Bryant reveals names of deputies who allegedly shared photos of helicopter crash site


In 12 caption-less Instagram posts Wednesday night, Kobe Bryant’s widow, Vanessa Bryant, revealed the names of the four Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department deputies who allegedly took or shared graphic photos of the site of the helicopter crash, which killed the basketball legend and their 13-year-old daughter, Gianna, as well as seven others in January 2020.

The posts show an amended complaint, filed Wednesday in U.S. District Court in Los Angeles, which names deputies Joey Cruz, Rafael Mejia, Michael Russell, and Raul Versales as the defendants, as well as the Los Angeles County, its sheriff department and fire department. It claims negligence, invasion of privacy, and a violation of the 14th Amendment. 

Earlier this month, a federal judge ruled that Bryant could obtain the deputies’ names. Initially redacted, attorneys for the departments had wanted to keep their names and ranks sealed. 

The lawsuit alleges that “deputies who responded to the crash scene used personal cell phones to take and share gratuitous photos of the dead children, parents and coaches.” According to the case, Sheriff Alex Villanueva initially assured Bryant of privacy when she expressed concerns just after the incident occurred. 

The suit claims that one deputy took between 25 and 100 photos at the scene, which had “no conceivable investigatory purpose and were focused directly on the victims’ remains.” 

The suit calls the actions of the deputies, who spread the photos throughout the departments via texts and AirDrop, “morbid gossip.” It details each deputy’s role in sharing the photos with people who had no connection to the investigation. 

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