Closing arguments filed in Vanessa Bryant lawsuit

() — Closing arguments in Vanessa Bryant’s civil rights lawsuit against Los Angeles County began Tuesday. The lawsuit focuses on photos taken by emergency services of the scene of the helicopter crash that killed her husband, NBA legend Kobe Bryant, her daughter Gianna, and seven others.

Bryant, along with co-plaintiff Chris Chester, whose wife and daughter were also among the victims of the crash, say sharing the photos violated their right to privacy and failure to contain the release of the images caused them emotional distress.

Bryant claims photos of the January 2020 crash were shared by county firefighters and sheriff’s department employees in settings irrelevant to the investigation, including a bar.

The trial comes more than two and a half years after Kobe, his 13-year-old daughter and seven others were killed in a helicopter crash in Calabasas, California.

The last witness to testify, then-Assistant County Fire Marshal Dennis Breshears, reinforced the plaintiffs’ position that while the scene photography may have a general purpose, close-up photos of human remains taken by Captain Brian Jordan and shared with some members of the fire department were of no use in responding to the fires.

“Do you agree that the photos of Captain Jordan amounted to visual gossip?” Breshears was asked. “I would agree,” he said.

Jordan showed “not only a lack of respect for the privacy (of the victims) … he violated the ethics of our organization, the policies that we defend. It put him in danger,” Breshears said.

The county maintains that those policies were in place and should not have been violated by some of its employees, so it is not at fault for the actions of individual employees.

Bryant broke down at times while testifying Friday that he is still experiencing panic attacks and anxiety over the prospect of seeing photos of the crash.

Witnesses included a sheriff’s deputy who said he showed graphic images of the scene while at a bar, another sheriff’s deputy who said he shared photos while playing a video game, a sheriff’s deputy who sent dozens of photos to someone he did not know and a fire official who showed the images to other staff during the cocktail hour of an awards ceremony.

Closing arguments, including rebuttals, are expected to last about three hours.

Tuesday, Bryan posted a message on Instagram to Kobe, wishing him a happy birthday on what would have been the basketball star’s 44th birthday.

“Happy birthday baby! I love and miss you so much,” she wrote.

The lawsuit, filed in September 2020, seeks undisclosed damages, alleging civil rights violations, negligence, emotional distress, and violation of privacy.

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