Vanessa Bryant Details Emotional Pain from Photos Taken at Helicopter Crash
LOS ANGELES (CNS) – Vanessa Bryant described her pain and grief at learning emergency medical workers took and shared photos from the site of the helicopter crash that killed her husband, Kobe Bryant, and daughter Gianna on Jan. 26, 2020, and said Los Angeles County Sheriff Alex Villaneuva assured her the site would be kept private and secure, she explained in a deposition this month.
“My life will never be the same without my husband and daughter,” Bryant testified, according to the New York Times.
The transcript of Bryant’s videoconference testimony was obtained by the Los Angeles Times and the New York Times, and details her answers under questioning from her own attorneys and those representing Los Angeles County.
The county is the defendant in a case stemming from Bryant’s lawsuit alleging an invasion of privacy that caused her great emotional distress when emergency medical workers took and shared photos of the human remains at the helicopter crash site.
“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 suit states
For it’s part, attorneys representing the county are asking a federal judge to order Bryant to undergo a psychiatric exam to determine whether her emotional distress was caused by the leaked photos or the unexpected loss of her husband of nearly 20 years and their 13-year-old daughter.
The county alleges Bryant and other plaintiffs in the case “cannot be suffering distress from accident site photos that they have never seen and that were never publicly disseminated.”
“The fact remains that no crash site photos taken by first responders have ever been publicly disseminated, as Ms. Bryant confirmed in her deposition,” said attorney Skip Miller, who is representing the county.
Bryant’s lawyers have challenged the county’s assertions, saying an“ invasive” medical exam is not necessary and that her distress is plainly evident from her own testimony
“The county’s tactics are simply a cruel attempt to extract a price for victims to obtain accountability,” Bryant’s legal team wrote in a court filing. “Rather than take accountability for conduct the sheriff himself has called `wildly inappropriate’ and `disgusting,’ the county has chosen to pull out all the stops to make the case as painful as possible.”
Following the county’s request, at least 10 other plaintiffs in the case, including all of the young children, were removed as parties to the lawsuit, the New York Times reported. Two families settled with the county last week although the terms were not disclosed, the New York paper said, while Christopher Chester, whose wife, Sarah, and daughter Peyton died in the crash, is continuing his lawsuit but has removed his surviving children as plaintiffs.
No information was released on why the changes were made.
In the deposition, Bryant details how she learned about the crash from a family assistant, rushed to the crash site and later met with Villanueva at the Malibu-Lost Hills Sheriff’s Station where the sheriff asked if he could do anything for her.
“And I said: `If you can’t bring my husband and baby back, please make sure that no one takes photographs of them. Please secure the area,” the Los Angeles Times quoted Bryant as saying. Then, after being told by Villanueva that he would, she reiterated, “No, I need you to get on the phone right now and I need you to make sure you secure the area.”
Bryant told the lawyers she wants the emergency workers who took the pictures held accountable and will leave monetary damages up to a jury, the Los Angeles Times reported.
“The impact of the helicopter crash was so damaging,” Bryant testified. “I just don’t understand how someone can have no regard for life and compassion, and, instead, choose to take that opportunity to photograph lifeless and helpless individuals for their own sick amusement.”
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