Vanessa Bryant earned a big victory in the lawsuit against Los Angeles County. According to Entertainment Tonight, the jury in the lawsuit ordered Los Angeles County to pay the widow of NBA legend Kobe Bryant $16 million. The county was also ordered to pay $15 million to co-plaintiff Chris Chester who lost his wife, Sarah, and 13-year-old daughter Payton in the same helicopter crash that killed Kobe, and 13-year-old Gianna Bryant on Jan. 26, 2020. Both Vanessa Bryant and Chris Chester were seeking million in damages and emotional distress from the photos of the crash site taken by officers.
The verdict was announced on Mamba Day, which is coined for the two numbers Kobe Bryant wore during his 20-year career. This also happened one day after Bryant's birthday. After the verdict was announced, Vanessa went to Instagram and wrote: "All for you! I love you! JUSTICE for Kobe and Gigi!"
Mira Hasmall, lead outside counsel for LA County in the lawsuit released a statement to Entertainment Tonight in response to the verdict. "We are grateful for the jury's hard work in this case. While we disagree with the jury's findings as to the County's liability, we believe the monetary award shows that jurors didn't believe the evidence supported the Plaintiffs' request of $75 million for emotional distress," Hashmall said. "We will be discussing next steps with our client. Meanwhile, we hope the Bryant and Chester families continue to heal from their tragic loss."
In May 2020, Vanessa Bryant filed a claim against the L.A. County Sherriff's department for sharing private photos of the crash scene that left nine people dead. She filed a lawsuit in September, accusing eight sheriff's deputies taking cell phone photos of the bodies of Kobe and Giana for personal use.
"The Sheriff's Department's outrageous actions have caused Mrs. Bryant severe emotional distress and compounded the trauma of losing Kobe and Gianna," the documents read. "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." During the trial, Vanessa took the stand and shared her reaction to learning about the photo, which she found out from a report from the Los Angeles Times in February 2020.
"I just remember not wanting to react 'cause the girls were in the room," Vanessa said. "I said, 'I can't do this.' … And I bolted out of the house and I ran to the side of the house so the girls couldn't see me. I wanted to run… down the block and just scream. I can't escape my body. I can't escape what I feel."