On January 26, 2020, Kobe Bryant, his daughter Gianna, and seven other people were killed when a helicopter crashed due to “pilot error.”
In the wake of the tragic event, sheriff’s deputies released photos of the crash wreckage, a move that resulted in a lawsuit from Bryant’s widow, Vanessa. Lawyers for Los Angeles County now say that Bryant has turned what should have been a “straightforward” case into a “fishing expedition,” according to court documents reviewed by Fox News.
The claim came in the county’s response to Bryant’s attorneys requesting an extra six months for discovery in order to execute more depositions and compile more evidence.
“This straightforward case, with undisputed facts, has turned into a fishing expedition that is taking first responders away from their job – and subject [sic] them to public harassment and threats,” the court filing says. “Defendants are eager to have their day in Court and put an end to this.”
Further, L.A. county attorneys argued that the court should deny Bryant’s request and said she has been delaying the proceedings.
“Plaintiff has not been diligent,” the filing states. “Instead, Plaintiff has stalled the forensic examination for seven months, sought irrelevant and unnecessary discovery, expanded the scope of discovery beyond what this case requires, engaged in nonsensical meet and confer efforts, and needlessly delated setting depositions, conducting discovery and even filing this Motion.”
Bryant argues in her lawsuit that multiple sheriff’s deputies improperly took photos of the crash scene, alleging one deputy took 25 to 100 photos on his personal cell phone for reasons unrelated to the case. In total, Bryant alleges that at least eight deputies took inappropriate photos of the crash with their cell phones. Bryant further alleges that the deputies who took photos were not directly involved in the investigation and therefore had no legitimate purpose for taking or disseminating the photos.
“It is undisputed that only government personnel and one friend saw the photographs in question,” Bryant’s attorneys allege in their lawsuit. “There has been no public dissemination – nothing in the media, nothing on the Internet.”
Bryant’s lawsuit also states that one sheriff’s deputy assigned to work on the crash obtained photos of the wreckage from fire department personnel and then shared them with someone who wasn’t part of the investigation. Bryant’s lawsuit alleges this was done “for no reason other than morbid gossip.”
Further, the lawsuit states that another sheriff’s deputy “boasted” to a local bartender about responding to the scene. This deputy showed photos of the crash that had been sent by another deputy. The photos showed Kobe Bryant’s body as well as that of a young girl, according to the lawsuit. This bartender then told patrons about the crash, prompting them to file a complaint with the Sheriff’s Department, the lawsuit states.
Fox reported that L.A. County “had provided Bryant and her legal team with more than 20,000 pages of related documents, including the Sheriff’s Department’s Internal Affairs Bureau Report and a draft forensic protocol.”
The county now argues that Bryant “does not need, nor is she entitled to, over 50 depositions.”
“The parties know who took accident site photographs, who they were shared with, and when they were deleted. That is what this case is about. It is not about what Plaintiff perceives to be inadequacies in the County’s internal investigations and personnel decisions regarding the photographs,” attorneys for the county wrote.
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