Jurors agreed that county officials taking and sharing photos of the remains of Mr. Bryant and daughter Gianna invaded widow Vanessa Bryant’s privacy and brought her emotional distress.
A federal jury found Wednesday, Augus 24, that Los Angeles County must pay Kobe Bryant’s widow Vanessa Bryant $16 million over photos shared by county employees of the NBA star’s body at the site of the January 2020 helicopter crash site that killed him.
The nine jurors who returned the unanimous verdict agreed with Ms. Bryant and her attorneys that deputies and firefighters taking and sharing photos of the remains of Kobe Bryant and their 13-year-old daughter Gianna invaded her privacy and brought her emotional distress.
The jury deliberated for 4.5 hours before reaching the verdict. Vanessa Bryant cried quietly as it was read. An attorney for the county declined comment on the verdict outside the courtroom.
The pictures were shared mostly between employees of the LA County sheriff’s and fire departments, including by some who were playing video games and attending an awards banquet. They were also seen by some of their spouses and in one case by a bartender at a bar where a deputy was drinking.
Vanessa Bryant tearfully testified during the 11-day trial that news of the photos compounded her still-raw grief a month after losing her husband and daughter, and that she still has panic attacks at the thought that the images might still be out there.
“I live in fear every day of being on social media and these popping up,” she testified. “I live in fear of my daughters [Natalia, 19, Bianka, 5, and Capri, 3] being on social media and these popping up.” Her co-plaintiff Chris Chester, whose wife and daughter were also among the nine people killed in the crash, was awarded $15 million. The jury returned its verdict on Kobe Bryant Day, which is celebrated on August 24 because it uses both of his jersey numbers – 8 and 24 – and is the day after his birthday. Tuesday would have been Kobe’s 44th birthday.