LOS ANGELES - Vanessa Bryant, the widow of NBA legend Kobe Bryant, has shared a 12-page document revealing the names of the deputies who took and shared photos of the fatal helicopter crash that took the life of Kobe, their daughter Gigi and seven others.
According to the court document Bryant shared on Instagram Wednesday evening, the deputies who responded to the crash scene ‘used personal cell phones to take and share gratuitous photos of dead children, parents and coaches’.
The document states that a sheriff’s department investigation shows that one deputy took between 25 to 100 photos of the crash scene. The photos had no "conceivable investigatory purpose and were focused directly on the victims’ remains."
Bryant is suing Los Angeles County Sheriff Alex Villanueva and his department over the shared photos.
The front page of the lawsuit names the defendants as the County of Los Angeles, Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department, Los Angeles County Fire Department, and the four deputies, whom FOX 11 will not identify in this story.
The document she posted details the actions of each deputy the morning of the crash.
The document states that one of the deputies ["Deputy 1"] with the sheriff’s department responded to the scene on January 26, 2020 and stationed himself at the makeshift command post at the Los Virgenes Water District. While there, the deputy "obtained multiple photographs of Bryants’ remains, stored them on his personal cell phone, and shared them with several other department personnel, including ['Deputy 2']".
According to the document, Deputy 1 acknowledged sending crash scene photos to other members of the department and claimed the purpose of sending the pictures were to "answer the questions regarding color, numbers, and identifying features of the aircraft as well as crash scene details". The document says Deputy 1's purpose of sending the pictures to identify the helicopter was false.
When Deputy 2 responded to the scene he stationed himself at the Los Virgenes Water District. While on his shift, he obtained multiple photos of Bryants’ remains and stored them on his personal cell phone, according to the lawsuit. The lawsuit states that Deputy 2 then shared the photos without any legitimate governmental purpose.
When "Deputy 3" responded to the area he was staffed at a checkpoint at the base of the hillside that led to the downed helicopter. The lawsuit says Deputy 3 heard rumors that photos of the accident were circulating among other deputies and "was curious to see them himself." The court document states that Deputy 3 asked "Deputy 4" to send him the photos. He then saved the photos in his phone’s photo album, according to the document.
Documents show that Deputy 4 was a trainee deputy with the department and responded to the general area of the accident that January morning. Documents say that at some time during his shift Deputy 4 obtained photos of Bryants’ remains. "After obtaining photos of the Bryants’ remains, [Deputy 4] shared them with multiple individuals without any legitimate governmental purpose, including several members of the public," the document states.
According to the lawsuit, LA County Sheriff Alex Villanueva did "not follow protocol" following knowledge of the photos. The lawsuit states Villanueva did not "conduct a standard investigation or collect, inspect, or search cell phones to determine how many photos existed, whether and how they had been transmitted or whether they were stored on the cloud."
It also states Villanueva also did not inform the L.A. County Office of the Inspector General or Internal Affairs. The lawsuit further alleges Villanueva "summoned his deputies to the Lost Hills station and told them that if they 'came clean' and deleted the photos, they would not face any discipline."
Villanueva released a statement Wednesday evening:
"We will refrain from trying this case in the media, and wait for the appropriate venue. Our hearts go out to all the families affected by this tragedy."
The posted document states that none of the deputies had any role in investigating the accident of identifying those in the crash and therefore had no reason to share the photos.