The wife of the late Kobe Bryant has won a case in court regarding releasing the names of deputies who shared crash photos of her husband’s death.
Vanessa Bryant won her lawsuit against the four Los Angeles County sheriff’s deputies who her lawyers allege shared “unauthorized” photos of Kobe, Gianna Bryant, and seven others at the helicopter crash site where they died in California over a year ago.
In his ruling, U.S. District Judge John F. Walter stated that police officer misconduct should not be concealed from the public and that Bryant’s wife can obtain the deputies’ names, dismissing L.A. County lawyers’ efforts to keep the names sealed in order to protect them.
“Indeed where the case involves allegations of police misconduct, the public has a vested interest in assessing the truthfulness of the allegations of official misconduct, and whether agencies that are responsible for investigating and adjudicating complaints of misconduct have acted properly and wisely,” he wrote.
According to the Los Angeles Times, U.S. District Judge John F. Walter ruled that Vanessa can obtain the deputies’ names, dismissing L.A. County lawyers’ efforts to keep the names sealed in order to protect them from online vitriol and hackers who may want to obtain the photos.
“Although the Court recognizes that this case has been the subject of public scrutiny and media attention and that the Deputy Defendants are legitimately concerned that they will encounter vitriol and social media attacks, such concerns, by themselves, are not sufficient to outweigh the public’s strong interest in access,” he added.
The lawsuit was filed in September 2020, claiming that certain deputies and firefighters captured and shared photos on their personal cell phones from the January 26th, 2020 crash.
She’s seeking damages for negligence, invasion of privacy, and emotional distress.
Bryant said that while not “all law enforcement is bad,” the deputies “need to be held accountable for their actions, just like everyone else.”