On Monday, Vanessa Bryant’s lawyers filed a motion for her lawsuit over photographs of the helicopter crash site taken by Los Angeles County sheriffs deputies, which, if provided, would require jurors to take over the wider public dissemination of the images because the evidence was destroyed.
The robbery sanction petition is the latest move in Kobe Bryant’s widow’s severe emotional distress lawsuit after MPs and firefighters shared gruesome photos of the crash site where her husband, daughter Gianna and seven others died in January 2020. Photos were shared internally by one MP who showed his cell phone at the Norwalk bar and the fire captain who showed images on his phone during the prize show’s cocktail hour.
The judge’s decision in favor of the motion may interfere with the district’s attempts to close the case pending trial.
Louis Lee, Bryant’s top attorney, claimed that upon hearing of the citizens’ complaint about the January 29 incident at the bar, Sheriff Alex Villaneva ordered all deputies with images of the Calabasas wreck to remove them immediately.
An investigation by the Los Angeles Times in March revealed that MPs shared grim photographs of the scene. Bryant’s lawyers argued that because county agencies did not order their employees to keep their phones, Vanessa Bryant was prevented from finding out who the images were provided with before the devices were completely wiped off.
County prosecutors acknowledged that the MPs and three fire captains shared photos from the crash site.
Skip Miller, a county attorney, said that by ordering the immediate removal of the images, Villanueva was keen to keep a promise made to Vanessa Bryant that the photos would not be published.
In a recent testimony in the case, Bryant recalled that she told Villanueva: “If you cannot get my husband and child back, please make sure no one is taking pictures of them. Please secure the area. ”
In court documents, Miller said that Bryant’s lawyers want to draw an “unfavorable conclusion” in summary judgment and trial, and that the lost evidence would show “further electronic distribution” of the photographs.
He claims that Vanessa Bryant could not have been seriously affected by the photos of the accident, which she never saw and which were never published publicly due to the deletions. County lawyers hope to close the case pending trial if they can prove that the general public has never seen the images.
Bryant’s lawyers argued that the county did not seek to keep the software on the mobile phones involved after learning of the citizens’ complaint, and stated in court documents that one sheriff’s captain, who expressed concerns about the removal order, was demoted.
County attorneys objected, saying Bryant hoped to punish the county for fulfilling her wishes.
“While the district continues to have deepest sympathy for the grief that Ms. Bryant endured, her lawyers’ request for sanctions is an attempt to distract attention from the fact that none of the routine investigative photographs taken by district officials have ever been released. … widespread, ”Miller said in a statement to The Times.
But Bryant’s lawyer noted in court documents that the images were usually not shared, and that the photographs were received by others not subordinate to the command.
Lawyers for Christopher Chester, who filed a lawsuit that mirrors Vanessa Bryant’s, have also joined the movement. He lost his wife Sarah Chester and daughter Payton, 13, in a plane crash in Calabasas.
The trial is scheduled for next February. In recent weeks, US Justice of the Peace Charles F. Eyck has ruled that the county’s motion to force Bryant to undergo an IMR was untimely given the date of the trial.
The decision marked another victory for Bryant’s team of lawyers, who also convinced the judge to let them remove the sheriff and county fire chief. But district attorneys are also looking for Bryant’s mental health records to determine if she had any pre-existing emotional distress.
The county has already settled claims against Matthew Mauser for $ 1.25 million and siblings JJ Altobelli and Alexis Altobelli for an additional $ 1.25 million. Mauser’s wife, Christina, as well as Altobellis’ mother, father and younger sister – Keri, John and Alyssa – were killed in a plane crash.