Kobe Bryant Helicopter Crash Prompts New Photo Law in California

A new California law bans first responders from taking photos of deceased people at crime scenes, after Kobe Bryant's wife Vanessa sued the L.A. County Sheriff after images of the crash were leaked.

By Lindsay Weinberg Sep 29, 2020 8:48 PMTags
Watch: Vanessa Bryant Honors Kobe On What Would've Been His 42nd Birthday

Vanessa Bryant is seeing some justice following the death of husband Kobe Bryant in January.

California Gov. Gavin Newsom signed a law on Monday, Sept. 28, that prohibits first responders from taking photos of deceased people at crime scenes.

Assembly Bill 2655 makes it a misdemeanor punishable by up to $1,000 for first responders to take unauthorized photos of bodies, "other than an official law enforcement purpose or a genuine public interest." It's cited as an invasion of privacy.  

Vanessa sued the L.A. County Sheriff and the department earlier this month over leaked photos of the helicopter crash that killed Kobe and their 13-year-old daughter, Gianna Bryant. In a court filing obtained by E! News, she said the actions left her "confused and distraught." 

Her lawsuit claimed, "No fewer than eight sheriff's deputies at the crash site, pulled out their personal cell phones and snapped photos of the dead children, parents and coaches. The deputies took these photos for their own personal gratification."

The new California state law takes effect January 1, 2021. 

Kobe Bryant's Family Album

L.A. County Sheriff Alex Villanueva tweeted on Monday after the bill was signed, thanking the Governor. He wrote, "Shortly following the Calabasas helicopter crash which tragically took nine lives, I sponsored legislation #AB2655 which now makes it a crime for public safety personnel to take or share pictures of the deceased for other than an official purpose." 


Villanueva said he had demanded the first responders delete the pictures of Kobe's helicopter crash on Jan. 26, AP reported. He added that his team's policy already banned taking and sharing photos of crime scenes, but it wasn't applicable to accidents. 

The bill's author, Mike A. Gipson, said he was "proud" of the new legislation, which he dubbed the "Kobe Bryant Act of 2020."

Vanessa also filed a wrongful death lawsuit against Island Express Helicopters back in February. The 72-page document alleges the company and pilot had a "duty" to use a certain "degree of care" in such circumstances. An Island Express spokesperson told E! News in a statement, "This was a tragic accident. We will have no comment on the pending litigation." 

Read more about Vanessa's world after the passing of her husband and daughter.