Vanessa Bryant has filed a legal claim concerning the release of photos taken by the Los Angeles County's Sheriff's Department that show the aftermath of the helicopter crash that killed her husband Los Angeles Lakers legend Kobe Bryant, daughter, Gianna and even other people. The claim was obtained by PEOPLE, and Vanessa and seeking damages for emotional distress and mental anguish following eight L.A. County Sheriff's Department deputies took photos of the victims and shared them with other people.
"In reality, however, no fewer than eight sheriff’s deputies were at the scene snapping cell-phone photos of the dead children, parents, and coaches," the document stated. "As the Department would later admit, there was no investigative purpose for deputies to take pictures at the crash site. Rather, the deputies took photos for their own personal purposes."
Sheriff Alex Villanueva spoke to Vanessa Bryant on the morning of the crash. Bryant asked the site to be secured for privacy, and Villanueva told reporters only the county coroner's office and investigators with the National Transportation Safety Board were permitted to photograph the crash site. Bryant first learned about the photos through various news outlets on Feb. 28., one month after the crash.
"This [filing] solely is about enforcing accountability, protecting the victims and making sure no one ever has to deal with this conduct in the future," a spokesperson for the Bryant family told PEOPLE in a statement. "When a family suffers the loss of loved ones, they have the right to expect that they will be treated with dignity and respect. The Deputies in this case betrayed that sacred trust. This claim is intended to hold the Sheriff’s Department accountable and to prevent future misconduct."
The claim goes on to reveal the department didn't discipline the deputies for sharing the photos. It also states she's worried the photos will be online for the entire world to see, including her children. "Mrs. Bryant is deeply worried that all copies of the sheriff’s deputies’ photos have not been accounted for, and that it is only a matter of time before she or her daughters encounter them on the Internet," the claim stated. "Upon information or belief, sheriff’s deputies shared photos of victims’ remains with individuals unaffiliated with the investigation for their own excitement and sense of self- importance, including one instance where a deputy shared photos to impress a woman at a bar."
The other victims in the crash were 13-year-old Payton Chester, Sarah Chester, 46, 14-year-old Alyssa Altobelli, Keri Altobelli, 46, John Altobelli, 56, Christina Mauser, 38, and the helicopter's pilot Ara Zobayan, 50. Bryant paid tribute to Kobe and Gianna in a memorial service at the Staples Center on Feb. 24.