On Monday (March 3), a judge ruled that Vanessa Bryant is to be given the names of the deputies who took and shared photos of the plane crash that killed her husband, Lakers legend Kobe Bryant, their 13-year-old daughter, Gianna Bryant, and seven additional victims.
“The Sheriff’s Department wants to redact the names of the deputies that took and/or shared photos of my husband, daughter and other victims,” Bryant posted to her Instagram in February. “Anyone else facing allegations would be unprotected, named and released to the public…These specific deputies need to be held accountable for their actions just like everyone else.”
Bryant brought the suit after a report emerged that deputies had not only taken grisly photographs from the crash site, but that they also had been sharing photos to show off.
The Mexican-American former model has not only advocated for the release of the deputies’ names, but urged Congress to pass a new helicopter safety bill named for her husband and daughter. In September, she also filed the civil claim against the LASD and Sheriff Villanueva for the photo leak in September, seeking undisclosed damages to remedy civil rights violations, negligence, emotional distress, and violation of privacy.
Attorneys for the LA County Sheriff’s Department wanted to keep the deputies’ names and ranks sealed, arguing that “hackers may attempt to seek out and gain access to the individual deputies’ devices to locate any photographs and publish them,” according to court documents. A U.S. District Judge disagreed, and said in a ruling on Monday that this is “totally inconsistent with their position that such photographs no longer exist.”
Bryant’s attorney Luis Li welcomed the judge’s ruling Monday night, telling CNN in a statement, “Transparency promotes accountability. We look forward to presenting Mrs. Bryant’s case in open Court.”