Vanessa Bryant Sues L.A. County Sheriff Over Deputy-Shared Photos of Helicopter Crash Victims

Vanessa Bryant arrives to speak during the "Celebration of Life for Kobe and Gianna Bryant" service - H 2020
FREDERIC J. BROWN/AFP via Getty Images

The suit demands damages "in an amount to be proven at trial."

Vanessa Bryant on Tuesday filed a lawsuit against the Los Angeles County Sheriff's Department over photos taken and shared by deputies of the January helicopter crash site where her husband and daughter, along with seven others, were killed.

In the suit obtained by The Hollywood Reporter, the widow of the Los Angeles Lakers legend says she suffered devastating emotional damages after she learned pictures were taken and shared by deputies both within the department and one instance in public.

“The biggest threat to the sanctity of the victims' remains proved to be the Sheriff’s department itself. Faced with a scene of unimaginable loss, no fewer than eight sheriff’s deputies at the crash site pulled out their personal cell phones and snapped photos of the dead children, parents and coaches," the lawsuit states. “The gratuitous images soon became talked about within the department, as deputies displayed them to colleagues in settings that had nothing to do with investigating the accident. One deputy even used his photos of the victims to try to impress a woman at a bar, bragging about how he had been at the crash site."

The suit demands damages "in an amount to be proven at trial." Bryant previously filed a legal claim against the sheriff's department over the photos.

After word of the shared photos spread to the press in March, Sheriff Alex Villanueva said he ordered the photos destroyed and condemned the deputies' behavior. It is unclear if any were reprimanded.

News of the lawsuit comes days after Vanessa Bryant criticized Villanueva for publicly challenging LeBron James to match reward money offered for information that would lead to the arrest of a man who ambushed two deputies.

The Lakers superstar and friend of Kobe has been a staunch supporter of Black Lives Matter and has used the playoffs platform to be outspoken over the numerous police shootings that involved unarmed Black people. In the wake of the deputies' shooting, far-right commentators, such as Candace Owens, laid the blame for the ambush on BLM, stars and athletes, calling out James by name — even though a suspect had not been identified and no motive for the attack was known.

James did not respond to the sheriff.

In late June, Villanueva was sued by the Association for Los Angeles Deputy Sheriffs union in an effort to keep the investigation of the deputies' actions private, thereby barring names from being made public.