Vanessa Bryant Recounts Devastating Moment She Learned About Kobe and Gianna Bryant Crash Site Photos

Vanessa Bryant is suing Los Angeles County for allegedly sharing unauthorized photos of the helicopter crash that killed Kobe Bryant, their daughter Gianna and seven others. Read on for her testimony.

By Mike Vulpo, Alli Rosenbloom, Gabrielle Chung Aug 19, 2022 10:27 PMTags
Watch: Vanessa Bryant Cries in Court During Trial Against L.A. County

Vanessa Bryant's day in court has officially arrived.

On Aug. 19, the 40-year-old appeared in a federal courtroom where she took the stand in her ongoing trial against Los Angeles County.

While testifying in front of a jury, Vanessa recounted the devastating moment she learned that several Los Angeles County sheriff's deputies and firefighters had allegedly shared unauthorized photos from the January 2020 helicopter crash that killed nine people, including her husband Kobe Bryant and their 13-year-old daughter Gianna Bryant.

According to Vanessa, she was nursing her youngest daughter Capri, now 3, when she was informed that Los Angeles Times had published an article reporting how photos of the crash site had been circulating amongst Los Angeles County staffers. Sobbing, Vanessa told the court that she was with her kids, as well as family friend Pau Gasol and his wife Catherine McDonnell, at the time.

"I just remember not wanting to react with my girls in the room," she recalled, adding that she "broke down and cried" after running out of the house. "I just felt like I wanted to run down the block and scream."

Kobe Bryant: Life in Photos

Describing herself as "blindsided, devastated, hurt" and "betrayed" by existence of the photos, Vanessa said she filed her lawsuit against the county because she "wanted answers."

"I live in fear every day," she explained, adding that she never wants her kids Capri, Bianka, 5, and Natalia, 19, to ever see the pictures. "All you want to do is protect your babies."

Elsewhere in her testimony, Vanessa accused those who took the photos of exploiting her late daughter. She claimed they took advantage of the situation by taking images of her remains because "her daddy couldn't protect her, because he was at the morgue."

"[I] expected them to have more compassion and respect," she said. "My husband and my daughter deserve dignity."

Earl Gibson III for Champion

The trial comes almost two years after Vanessa originally filed her suit against Los Angeles County officials.

In the lawsuit, obtained by E! News, Vanessa and her legal team alleged, "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."

Vanessa, according to the lawsuit, "feels ill at the thought of strangers gawking at images of her deceased husband and child, and she lives in fear that she or her children will one day confront horrific images of their loved ones online."

The lawsuit seeks unspecified damages, including punitive damages.

In regards to the lawsuit, the Los Angeles Sheriff's Department previously released a statement on Sept. 22, 2020. "Shortly following this tragic crash, Sheriff Alex Villanueva sponsored legislation which now makes it a crime for public safety personnel to take or share non-official pictures of this nature," the statement read. "As a result of the swift actions we took under extraordinary circumstances, no pictures made it into the public arena. We continue to offer our heartfelt sympathies for the victims and their families."

The county of Los Angeles also argues Vanessa's lawsuit is without legal merit, per the Aug. 3 defendants' trial brief obtained by E! News.

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