NBA

Kobe Bryant’s wife names officers accused of sharing dead body pics from crash

Kobe Bryant’s widow Vanessa Bryant has named the four police deputies she says passed around graphic photos of the helicopter crash which killed her husband, their daughter Gianna and seven other passengers.

LA Lakers superstar Bryant, 41, and his 13-year-old daughter tragically died when the helicopter they were in crashed near Calabasas, California in January 2020.

Seven other people were killed in the crash, including pilot Ara Zobayan, with the Los Angeles County coroner’s office recently putting their deaths down to “blunt trauma” while certifying them as an “accident”.

However, it was claimed shortly after the fatal crash that sickening photos of the dead passengers were taken and shared by Sheriff deputies.

The images were reportedly taken at the scene of the crash before being erased, but the deputies involved have still faced disciplinary action along with a lawsuit from Bryant’s widow Vanessa.

And in an Instagram post on Wednesday, Vanessa shared documents from her lawsuit which identify the names of deputies Joey Cruz, Rafael Mejia, Michael Russell and Raul Versales.

Her suit alleges that Mr Cruz shared photos of Kobe’s body with a bar worked and that the other three deputies passed around "gratuitous photos of the dead children, parents, and coaches."

None of the deputies were directly involved in investigating the crash or had any legitimate reason to be taking or sharing the graphic photos, the suit says.

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  • Vanessa also alleges in the lawsuit that, according to a sheriff’s department investigatory report, one deputy took 25 to 100 photos on his mobile phone that had no value to the investigation.

    At least eight deputies are said to have taken mobile phone photos, while Mr Mejia is alleged to have attained them from fire department personnel before sending them on to a female deputy who was not involved in the investigation "for no reason other than morbid gossip".

    The authorities are yet to release an official response, but Los Angeles County Sheriff Alex Villanueva tweeted: "We will refrain from trying this case in the media and will wait for the appropriate venue."

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