Vanessa Bryant Weeps on the Witness Stand Over Kobe Crash Photos

L.A. County claims all the photos of the nine helicopter crash victims were deleted but Bryant says such assurances mean nothing to her
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Vanessa Bryant broke down on the witness stand Friday, sometimes weeping so hard her whole body shook, as she described her fear that she will someday see the photos that Sheriff’s and Fire Department responders took of her husband and daughter and the seven other people who died in the January 2020 helicopter crash that killed Kobe and Gianna Bryant.

Bryant—who is suing Los Angeles County for negligence and invasion of privacy—told the court on Friday that when she read in the Los Angeles Times that the graphic photos were circulating, she had to run out of her house so that her other daughters wouldn’t see her cry, NBC News reports.

“I felt like I wanted to run down the block and scream,” she said. “I can’t escape my body. I can’t escape what I feel.” Bryant added that said she felt “blindsided, devastated, hurt and betrayed” by the county employees who leaked the photos, although she has not seen them.

“I don’t ever want to see these photographs,” she said. “I want to remember them as they were.”

Bryant testified that she is still terrified by the prospect that the images, which reportedly included severed body parts, might turn up on the internet.

“I live in fear everyday of seeing on social media and having these images pop up,” she said.

Although, as Fox News reports, the county contends all images taken by the sheriff’s deputies and firefighters were deleted upon orders of their superior officers, no longer exist in any form, and have never entered the public domain or appeared on the internet, Bryant said those assurances mean nothing to her—as they would to the parents of a child pornography victim.

“Evidence is evidence and should be treated as evidence,” she said.

On the day of the Calabasas crash, Bryant testified that she had asked Sheriff Alex Villanueva to secure the wreckage site immediately after she learned there were no survivors, according to the New York Post.

She said that Villanueva never mentioned to her that photos had been taken of the wreck as part of the investigation and that she was disgusted to learn, weeks later, that sheriff’s deputies and firefighters had been showing off the crash site photos.

“I expected them to have more compassion, respect,” Bryant said. “My husband and daughter deserved dignity.”

Bryant further testified that first responders who took photos of her dead 13-year-old daughter “violated'” the girl, and said she was “devastated” to learn that such images were snapped in spite of Villanueva’s assurances, City News Service reports.

“It’s like COVID,” Bryant told the court. “Once it’s spread, you can’t get it back.”

Chris Chester, who lost his wife Sarah and 13-year-old daughter Payton in the crash, is also suing the county in a consolidated suit with Bryant. L.A. County previously agreed to pay $2.5 million to settle a similar case brought by two families whose relatives died in the crash, NBC reports, but Bryant and Chester refused to settle.

In court on Thursday, Sheriff’s Department Chief Jorge Valdez admitted that he and Villanueva lied about the photos to a reporter.

Along with Chester and Bryant’s loved ones, the crash killed Alyssa Altobelli, 14; Keri Altobelli, 46; John Altobelli, 56; Christina Mauser, 38; and pilot Ara Zobayan, 50.


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