A forensic expert told an LA County court that first responders and sheriff’s officers “permanently destroyed” digital evidence pertinent to Vanessa Bryant’s case. Bryant, who sadly lost her husband Kobe Bryant and daughter Gianna Bryant due to a helicopter crash in January 2020, is suing LA County for emotional distress and mental anguish because of the actions of first responders.
Bryant’s team is accusing first responders of taking photos of Kobe, Gianna, and the rest of the victims and then sharing them. As part of the case, sheriff’s officers and more than a dozen first responders were made to turn over their phones as evidence. Yet, when the phones were turned over by the Los Angeles Sheriff’s Department and Fire Department, forensic investigators found that nine phones were brand new, and at least one other was wiped clean and reset to factory settings.
According to reports, witnesses filed complaints with the sheriff’s office about the photos taken at the scene. In response, officers were instructed to erase the photos from their phones in response.
David Freskos, a digital forensic expert, analyzed a report from Kroll, a forensics firm that analyzed the data on the phones. His findings claim that the first responders who turned over phones and laptops “permanently destroyed” digital evidence. Additionally, the sheriff’s office violated fundamental forensic principles by making it difficult to investigate the sharing of the photos.
Kroll was hired jointly by Vanessa Bryant’s legal team and LA County to investigate the digital evidence stored on the mobile devices. The case is still ongoing in the courts, with dozens of witnesses taking the stand to testify that first responders did show the photos to friends and family.