Two and a half years after the death of Kobe Bryant, Vanessa Bryant will receive $ 16 million in damages paid by the County of Los Angeles. The lawsuit that opposed her to the county authorities was about the photos taken by rescuers at the scene of the helicopter crash in which her husband and daughter, Gianna, died on January 26, 2020.
The photos also included the bodies of the crash victims. The photos have been circulated among firefighters and employees of the city's sheriff's department, who have shared them with people outside the ongoing investigation. This was done for recreational purposes rather than out of professional obligation. According to the Guardian, Luis Li, Vanessa Bryant's lawyer, told jurors that "the close-up photos had no official purpose or [utility to the] investigation and were merely 'visual gossip' shared out of macabre curiosity."
The Lakers' star basketball player and his 13-year-old daughter lost their lives along with seven other passengers in a helicopter that crashed in the hills of Calabasas, west of Los Angeles. A year after the accident, the pilot was blamed for making an "error in judgment" in maintaining the flight despite unfavorable weather conditions.
"I live every day in fear of being on social media and that [the photos] will appear," said Kobe Bryant's widow. "I live in fear that my daughters will look at social media and [the pictures] will appear." For its part, the defense insisted that none of the photos were made public, and that they were deleted from the electronic media on which they were stored.
Vanessa Bryant's claim was merged with that of Chris Chester, whose wife and daughter also died in the crash. Both were seeking damages for "emotional distress" caused by the release of the photos. After a two-week civil trial, the jury ordered Los Angeles County to pay $16 million to the basketball player's widow and $15 million to Chris Chester.