Vanessa Bryant Wins $16M Privacy Lawsuit Against LA County Over Kobe, Gianna Photos

Kobe's widow reportedly cried in court as she was awarded millions in her case against Los Angeles County for their alleged mishandling of crash scene photos.

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UPDATE 8/25/22, 8:40pm ET:  Vanessa Bryant revealed Thursday, August 25, what she will do with the $16 million she won in a judgment against Los Angeles County. According to the L.A. Times, the bereaved widow of Kobe Bryant will be donating the money to the Mamba & Mambacita Sports Foundation. “From the beginning, Vanessa Bryant has sought only accountability, but our legal system does not permit her to force better policies, more training or officer discipline,” Vanessa’s lawyer Luis Li told the outlet in a statement. “Those measures are the responsibility of the sheriff’s and fire departments — responsibilities that Mrs. Bryant’s efforts have exposed as woefully deficient, even giving amnesty to the wrongdoers.” Vanessa told the newspaper that she would donate in order to, “to shine a light on Kobe and Gigi’s legacy.”

ORIGINAL: Vanessa Bryant, 40, has reportedly won $16 million from the county of Los Angeles in her invasion-of-privacy case. The award comes as the culmination of a trial that has been running since Monday, August 22, over photos of her late husband Kobe Bryant and 13-year-old daughter, Gianna Bryant, allegedly being taken and shared by emergency responders after the helicopter crash that killed them on January 26, 2020.

Vanessa and Natalia Bryant
Natalia (left) and Vanessa Bryant and Sydney Leroux leave court in Los Angeles on August 24, 2022. (Jae C Hong/AP/Shutterstock)

The jury found that Los Angeles authorities who were on the scene of the deadly crash unlawfully took photos of the remains and site, per Variety. Vanessa was joined in the civil suit by Chris Chester, who lost his wife and daughter in the accident. Yesterday, Chris’ lawyer reportedly stated that the plaintiffs should be awarded one million per each year of their remaining expected lifespan, which would have amounted to tens of millions each.

Also killed in the crash were John Altobelli, 56, his wife Keri, 46, and their daughter, Alyssa, 13, along with Sarah Chester, 45, and daughter Payton, 13. Pilot Ara Zobayan, 50, and assistant coach Christina Mauser, 38, also perished that foggy morning. The bereaved wife of the Lakers legend reportedly wept openly as the verdict was read, which was reached after less than a full day of deliberation. Daughter Natalia Bryant, 19, was there to support her mom. “All for you! I love you! JUSTICE for Kobe and Gigi!” Vanessa captioned an Instagram photo of Kobe, Gianna, and Vanessa posted Wednesday evening after the verdict.

In documents previously obtained by HollywoodLife back in October of 2020, Vanessa claimed that “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.” She also accused the L.A. Sherriff’s Deputies involved of “severe emotional distress” over the alleged impropriety.

The papers were originally filed on September 17 of 2020. The photos, the documents claimed, were taken for their “own personal gratification” and alleged that the “gratuitous images soon became talked about within the department, as deputies displayed them to colleagues in settings that had nothing to do with investigating the accident. One deputy even used his photos of the victims to try to impress a woman at the bar, bragging about how he had been at the crash site.”

“I just remember not wanting to react cause the girls were in the room,” Vanessa testified on August 19. “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. … I was blindsided again, devastated, hurt. I trusted them. I trusted them not to do these things.” Vanessa testified that she lives in fear that the photos will eventually leak or surface online.

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