Vanessa Bryant Names Cops Who Allegedly Took Photos of Helicopter Crash

The widow of NBA star Kobe Bryant named the four Los Angeles County Sheriff’s deputies in an Instagram post on Wednesday.

This Feb. 26, 2018 file photo shows Vanessa Bryant, from left, Kobe Bryant, Natalia Bryant and Gianna Maria-Onore Bryant at the world premiere of “A Wrinkle in Time” in Los Angeles. (Photo by Jordan Strauss/Invision/AP)

(CN) — Vanessa Bryant, widow of NBA star Kobe Bryant, posted images of her federal lawsuit that named four Los Angeles County Sheriff’s deputies who allegedly shared photos of the helicopter crash that killed Kobe, their 13-year-old daughter Gianna and seven others.

In a series of posts made on Instagram, she shared images of her amended lawsuit brought against LA County, the sheriff’s department, LA County Fire Department and the four deputies: Joey Cruz, Rafael Mejia, Michael Russell and Raul Versales.

The names had been redacted in the initial lawsuit while U.S. District Judge John Walter determined if they could be released. He ruled last week that the sheriff’s department could not block the names.

The complaint alleged one of the deputies, Joey Cruz, shared photos of the Jan. 26, 2020 crash to a bartender just two days after the accident.

“Minutes after Cruz left the Baja California Bar and Grill on the evening of January 28, 2020, the bartender approached a table of four patrons and excitedly stated that a sheriff’s deputy had just shown him graphic photos of Kobe Bryant’s remains,” the lawsuit states. “The bartender described specific characteristics of Mr. Bryant’s remains, explained how the remains could be linked to Mr. Bryant, and indicated he found the situation humorous.”

The lawsuit claims at least 10 officers had seen the photos within two days of the accident, while one officer took between 25 and 100 pictures on his personal cellphone, including some that showed the remains at the site.

Bryant claims Mejia shared photos of the crash with a female deputy “for no reason other than morbid gossip.”

“In explaining his actions to investigators, Mejia could only say that ‘curiosity got the best of [them]’ and that such curiosity was ‘in [their] nature’ as deputies,” the lawsuit states.

The lawsuit claims officers made false statements about the crash photos during the sheriff department’s investigation into the matter. Bryant also alleges that Sheriff Alex Villanueva told the deputies they would not be disciplined as long as they deleted the photos.

“We will refrain from trying this case in the media and will wait for the appropriate venue,” Villanueva tweeted Wednesday evening. “Our hearts go out to all the families affected by this tragedy.”

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