Kobe Bryant’s widow testifies she was ‘blindsided’ by leaked photos

Source: BBC

Kobe Bryant’s widow has testified that she had panic attacks after learning that photos of the helicopter crash that killed her husband and daughter were taken and shared.

Vanessa Bryant is suing Los Angeles County after first responders allegedly circulated pictures from the accident.

“I expected them to have more compassion,” she told jurors at her invasion of privacy trial.

Mrs Bryant, 40, is seeking unspecified millions for her emotional distress.

Her husband, basketball legend Kobe Bryant, 41, daughter Gianna, 13, and six family friends died when their helicopter crashed in Thousand Oaks, California in January 2020.

A report by the Los Angeles Times claiming county employees took photos at the crash site and shared them with others has enraged the victims’ families.

Last November, the county agreed to pay $2.5m (£2.1m) over the emotional distress caused to two families who lost relatives in the crash – but Mrs Bryant refused to settle.

Her federal lawsuit was made alongside Chris Chester, who lost his wife Sarah and daughter Payton in the crash.

Sobbing on the witness stand on Friday, Mrs Bryant recalled being at home with her other children when she read the LA Times story.

“I bolted out of the house and I ran to the side of the house so the girls couldn’t see me. I wanted to run… down the block and just scream,” she said.

Mrs Bryant said she had felt “blindsided, devastated, hurt and betrayed” by news of the leak and “[lives] in fear everyday of… having these images pop up” on social media.

“I don’t ever want to see these photographs,” she said. “I want to remember my husband and my daughter the way they were.”

Jurors at the trial have heard how sheriff’s deputies and firefighters took gruesome cell phone photos at the accident site and showed them to others, including at a bar and a gala event.

These employees “poured salt in an open wound and rubbed it in” with their actions, Mrs Bryant’s lawyer Luis Li said during opening statements last week.

But a lawyer for the county pushed back, saying “site photography is essential” and that the photos had not been posted anywhere publicly.

“They’re not online, they’re not in the media, they’ve never even been seen by the plaintiffs themselves,” J Mira Hashmall said.

Mrs Bryant was the final witness for the prosecution and the defence will argue its case next.

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