As part of her lawsuit against Los Angeles County and its Sheriff’s Department, Vanessa Bryant will be able to obtain the names of the four sheriff’s deputies who allegedly released photos from the site of the helicopter crash that killed her husband, Kobe Bryant, and daughter, Gianna Bryant, according to Richard Winton of the LA Times. Los Angeles County had initially attempted to keep their names under seal in the lawsuit in order to protect their identities in the high-profile case, but were rejected by U.S. District Court Judge John F. Walter.
“Although the Court recognizes that this case has been the subject of public scrutiny and media attention and that the Deputy Defendants are legitimately concerned that they will encounter vitriol and social media attacks, such concerns, by themselves, are not sufficient to outweigh the public’s strong interest in access,” the judge wrote.
Vanessa Bryant took to Instagram in February voicing her frustration with the Sheriff’s Department wanting to keep the names private.
“The Sheriff’s Department wants to redact the names of thee deputies that took/and or shared photos of my husband, daughter and other victims. They want their names to b exempt from the public. Anyone else facing allegations would be unprotected, named and released to the public. Not all law enforcement is bad. These specific deputies need to be held accountable for their actions just like everyone else.”
Last month, Vanessa Bryant filed an amended complaint in federal court to her original civil rights lawsuit against the county and Sheriff’s Department, which includes the four deputies as well as the L.A. County Fire Department. Per the Los Angeles Times, “the lawsuit seeks damages for negligence and invasion of privacy, alleging deputies and firefighters took and shared photos of the children, parents and coaches who died in the Jan. 26, 2020, crash.”
The amended lawsuit details an internal affairs report by the Sheriff’s Department that says one deputy took up to 100 photos at the scene of the helicopter crash, which were shared by text to other deputies over the following 48 hours. The county will now have four days to appeal the ruling.