Vanessa Bryant Shares Sheriff's Deputies' Names

Judge cleared the way for Kobe Bryant's widow to do so last week
By Newser Editors and Wire Services
Posted Mar 18, 2021 1:52 AM CDT
Vanessa Bryant Shares Names of Sheriff's Deputies
In this March 4, 2018, file photo, Vanessa Bryant, left, and Kobe Bryant arrive at the Oscars in Los Angeles.   (Photo by Richard Shotwell/Invision/AP, File)

Kobe Bryant's widow, Vanessa Bryant, on Wednesday posted the names of four Los Angeles County sheriff's deputies she alleges shared graphic photos from the site of the helicopter crash that killed her husband, their daughter, Gianna, and seven others. Bryant's Instagram posts include images of portions of her lawsuit, which was amended to include the names of deputies Joey Cruz, Rafael Mejia, Michael Russell, and Raul Versales. The suit alleges that Cruz shared photos of Kobe Bryant's body with a bartender and the others passed around ”gratuitous photos of the dead children, parents, and coaches," the AP reports. None of the deputies were directly involved in the investigation of the crash or had any legitimate purpose in taking or passing around the grisly photos, the suit contends.

“We will refrain from trying this case in the media and will wait for the appropriate venue," Sheriff Alex Villanueva tweeted. “Our hearts go out to all the families affected by this tragedy." Vanessa Bryant sued the county and the Sheriff's Department, seeking damages for negligence and invasion of privacy, after the Jan. 26, 2020 crash. A federal judge last week rejected a bid to keep the deputies' names under seal, allowing Bryant to add them and details from the internal affairs investigation to the lawsuit. In the lawsuit, Bryant alleges that according to a Sheriff's Department investigatory report, one deputy took 25 to 100 photos on his personal cell phone that had no value to the investigation. The suit alleges that at least eight deputies snapped cellphone photos. (More of the horrific allegations here.)

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