A civil trial over the alleged distribution of photos of the scene of a helicopter crash that killed Los Angeles Lakers’ star Kobe Bryant, his daughter, Gianna, and seven others opened Wednesday with attorneys saying the thought of those images being shared will “haunt’' the victims’ families forever.
Vanessa Bryant and Chris Chester — whose wife, Sarah, and daughter, Payton, were killed in the Jan. 26, 2020, crash, were in court as attorneys gave their opening statements, The Los Angeles Times reported.
Bryant, his daughter and other parents and players were flying to a girls’ basketball tournament when their chartered helicopter crashed in the Calabasas hills west of Los Angeles in fog. Federal safety officials blamed pilot error for the wreck,
First responders “took pictures of broken bodies,” Bryant’s attorney, Luis Li, told jurors. “They took close-ups of limbs, of burnt flesh. It shocks the conscience.”
“She will be haunted by what they did forever,” Li said.
According to Bryant, photos of her dead husband and daughter were shared by people who had no reason to take photos at the crash scene, Sports Illustrated reported.
Bryant’s attorneys said the photos were shared between a sheriff’s deputy and a bartender and shown to some at a firefighters’ awards gala.
Neither Bryant nor Chester ever saw the shared photos, their attorneys said, but they live in fear that someday they will.
Los Angeles County Sheriff Alex Villanueva learned that photos were being shared from a person who was in the bar where a young deputy sheriff had shown them to a bartender. He offered deputies amnesty from discipline if they came clean and deleted the photos.
“Those pictures are nowhere,” Mira Hashmall, a lawyer representing the county, told the jury, adding that they were never published online or in the media or seen by the families.
The case grew out of a Times investigation showing deputies had shared graphic photos of the crash scene.
Since the crash, California legislators passed a law that makes it a crime for first responders to take unauthorized photos of deceased people at the scene of an accident or crime.
©2022 Cox Media Group