Vanessa Bryant just filed a lawsuit against the L.A. County Sheriff and his department for the leaked photos of her late husband, Los Angeles Lakers legend Kobe Bryant, and their daughter Gianna. According to TMZ, Bryant is suing the L.A. County Sheriff due to "severe emotional distress." Kobe and Gianna died in a helicopter crash along with seven other people on Jan. 26.
"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 lawsuit stated, as reported by TMZ. The deputies took these photos for their own personal gratification." The lawsuit also says the images were allegedly the subject of conversation within the sheriff's department. It details how the images were exposed when a deputy showed the pictures to a woman to a local bar. It led to the bartender calling the sheriff's department.
Bryant claims that Sheriff Villanueva tried to cover it up by telling deputies if they delete the photos, they would not face any discipline. The lawsuit also states Villanueva didn't tell the families about the photos and only learned about them when the media broke the story.
"Ms. Bryant feels ill at the thought of strangers gawking at images of her deceased husband and child, and she lives in fear that she or her children will one day confront horrific images of their loved ones online," the lawsuit states. TMZ attempted to contact the sheriff's department but have not gotten a response. However, the department did comment on the incident, which happened in February.
"The sheriff is deeply disturbed at the thought deputies could allegedly engage in such an insensitive act," a statement from the department said. "A thorough investigation will be conducted by the department, with the number one priority of protecting the dignity and privacy of the victims and their families." Shortly after the statement from the L.A. County Sheriff's Department, Bryant reacted to the leaked photo scandal.
"This was of critical importance to her as she desired to protect the dignity of all the victims and their families," Bryant's lawyer GaryRobb said. "At that time, Sheriff Alex Villanueva assured us all measures would be put in place to protect the families' privacy, and it is our understanding that he has worked hard to honor those requests."