Vanessa Bryant recounts day of deadly Kobe crash in photo lawsuit deposition

0
21
Vanessa Bryant recounts day of deadly Kobe crash in photo lawsuit deposition

Vanessa Bryant recounted the day her husband Kobe and daughter Gianna died in a helicopter crash, as LA County lawyers deposed her in connection with her emotional distress lawsuit.

Bryant is suing for severe emotional distress after emergency workers shared grisly pictures they snapped of the carnage to friends and acquaintances.

On the morning of Jan. 26, 2020, Vanessa, 39, stayed at her Orange County home with her two youngest children as her NBA legend husband took their teenage daughter to a basketball game via helicopter in Thousand Oaks, Calif., according to a transcript of the deposition viewed by The Post.

An assistant knocked on the door at 11:30 a.m. and told Bryant that Kobe and Gianna had been in a helicopter crash, mistakenly saying five people had survived the accident, according to the transcript.

Bryant said she figured her loved ones would be among the survivors — until notifications started popping up on her phone reading “RIP Kobe.” She rushed to an airport to try to charter a helicopter to take her to the site, but was denied due to inclement weather, according to court papers.

In the Sunday, March 4, 2018, file photo, Vanessa Laine Bryant, left, and Kobe Bryant arrive at the Oscars at the Dolby Theatre in Los Angeles.
Vanessa Bryant was at her Orange County home when an assistant told her the news of the crash that killed her husband Kobe and daughter Gianna, 13.
Richard Shotwell/Invision/AP

Bryant would officially learn that Kobe, 41 and Gianna, 13, and seven others had perished hours later at the sheriff’s station in Malibu, she told lawyers.

“Emotional distress means that not only do I have to grieve the loss of my husband and child, but for the rest of my life I’m going to have to fear that these photographs of my husband and child will be leaked,” Bryant said during the deposition, according to the transcript.

“My life will never be the same without my husband and daughter,” Bryant said, adding officials assured her no first responders would take pictures of the scene, the document detailed.

“And I said: ‘If you can’t bring my husband and baby back, please make sure that no one takes photographs of them. Please secure the area,’” Bryant said she told Los Angeles County Sheriff Alex Villanueva.

In this Feb. 24, 2020, file photo, Vanessa Bryant speaks during a celebration of life for her husband, Kobe Bryant, and daughter Gianna in Los Angeles. Vanessa Bryant has agreed to settle a lawsuit against the pilot and owners of the helicopter that crashed in 2020
Vanessa Bryant speaks during a celebration of life for Kobe Bryant and Gianna in Los Angeles last February.
Marcio Jose Sanchez, File/AP

Villanueva previously admitted that as many as eight deputies had snapped, seen or shared the images. One deputy took up to 100 pictures on his phone, and another showed them off at a bar in suburban LA, Bryant’s suit said.

“The impact of the helicopter crash was so damaging, I just don’t understand how someone can have no regard for life and compassion, and, instead, choose to take that opportunity to photograph lifeless and helpless individuals for their own sick amusement,” Bryant said, according to the transcript.

The county has argued that medical examinations are needed to determine whether Vanessa Bryant’s and other plaintiffs’ emotional distress was caused by the photos or the actual disaster.

“[While they] have undoubtedly suffered severe distress and trauma from the crash and resulting loss of their loved ones, their distress was not caused by [the first responders] or any accident site photos that were never publicly disseminated,” the county claimed in court documents.

The government was resorting to “scorched-earth discovery tactics,” Bryant’s lawyers charged.

A fan pays his respects to Kobe Bryant and his daughter, Gianna, in front of a mural in Los Angeles.
A fan pays his respects to Kobe Bryant and his daughter, Gianna, in front of a mural in Los Angeles.
Jae C. Hong, File/AP

“And I’m so sorry to put you through this, but like I said at the beginning, I’ve got to do my job,” county lawyer Louis Miller told Bryant during the deposition, according to the transcript.

“I shouldn’t have to be going through this,” the widow fired back. “It’s not just a lawsuit.”

Bryant listed well-known witnesses to her alleged emotional distress, including La La Anthony, R&B singer Monica Arnold, and Kobe’s former Lakers teammate Pau Gasol, the New York Times reported.

The witnesses will also reportedly be deposed, as lawyers debate whether it is appropriate for Villanueva and other officials to be required to give sworn testimony.

With AP wires

Source link