Although Tiger Woods' single-car accident in February and the 2020 helicopter crash that led to Kobe Bryant's death seem unrelated, one legal expert suggests that the investigation into Woods' incident is influenced by how investigators handled the death of the Los Angeles Lakers legend. Los Angeles County Sheriff Alex Villanueva said the investigation into Woods' accident is over, but officials are releasing very little information due to privacy concerns. Villanueva's office is likely more cognizant of privacy concerns due to Vanessa Bryant's invasion of privacy lawsuit filed against his office.
Legal analyst Amy Dash told Fox Sports Radio's Jason Smith Show it made "perfect sense" that investigators are not making the cause of Woods' crash public because of the lawsuit from Bryant's widow. "It makes perfect sense because the Sheriff and the LA County sheriff’s office are named in these lawsuits over the Kobe Bryant affair with his invasion of privacy lawsuit brought by Vanessa Bryant, and they’re still going on," Dash explained. "The sheriff was actually named a defendant, so clearly they’ve changed their policy and they’re not going forward with all this information when it comes to celebrities because there’s litigation. That’s what they’re scared about."
Woods was seriously injured in a single-car crash in the Los Angeles area on Feb. 23. Earlier this week, Villanueva confirmed the cause of the crash was determined. However, after they spoke to Woods and his team, they decided not to make it public until the family allows them to. "There's some privacy issues on releasing information on the investigation so we're going to ask them if they waive the privacy and then we will be able to do a full release on all the information regarding the accident," Villanueva explained to reporters.
Bryant, his daughter Gianna Bryant and seven others died in a helicopter crash in Calabasas on Jan. 26, 2020. About a month later, reports surfaced that Los Angeles County sheriff's deputies took graphic photos of the crash site and showed them to others. Villanueva was accused of trying to cover up the scandal by ordering deputies to delete the photos from their phones, according to the Los Angeles Times.
Vanessa later filed a lawsuit against the sheriff's office, the Los Angeles County Fire Department, and four deputies for negligence, invasion of privacy, and intentional infliction of emotional distress. Although Villanueva ordered the photos deleted, Vanessa's lawsuit suggests they may still exist. Initially, Vanessa did not name the deputies, but a judge ruled the names should be made public. Joey Cruz, Rafael Mejia, Michael Russell, and Raul Versales are the deputies listed as defendants.
"This lawsuit is about accountability and about preventing this disgraceful behavior from happening to other families in the future who have suffered loss," Vanessa's attorney, Luis Li, said in a statement. "The department formally refused Mrs. Bryant’s requests for information saying it was ‘unable to assist’ with any inquiry and had no legal obligation to do so. It’s now for a court to tell the department what its obligations are."