Kobe Bryant’s Widow Awarded $16M for Leaked Crash Photos

A Los Angeles jury has awarded Kobe Bryant’s widow Vanessa Bryant and his co-plaintiff Chris Chester a combined $31 million in a case involving photos of the NBA star’s crash site.

On Wednesday afternoon, the jury found that the Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department (LASD) and Fire Department (LAFD) had shared photos of Bryant’s and Chester’s loved ones, invading their families’ privacy and causing emotional distress.

After reading the verdict, the court ordered LASD to pay $10 million to Ms. Bryant and $9 million to Mr. Chester. Moreover, the LAFD must pay them $6 million each.

Lawyers for the plaintiffs declined to comment outside the court.

Mira Hasmall, a partner at the Milla Barondess Law Firm and the county’s lead outside counsel, thanked the jury for their hard work even though they disagreed with the findings.

“We believe the monetary award shows that jurors didn’t believe the evidence supported the plaintiffs’ requests for $75 million for emotional distress,” she stated.

“We will be discussing the next steps with our client. Meanwhile, we hope the Bryant and Chester families continue to heal from their tragic loss,” she added.

The touching trial, which ended shortly after the Los Angeles County legal team made its closing arguments, began on August 10. Bryant revealed heartbreaking details about the aftermath of the tragic 2020 helicopter crash that killed her husband, the Los Angeles Lakers legend, and their 13-year-old daughter Gianna Bryant.

Seven other people aboard the helicopter were also killed, including Mr. Chester’s wife Sarah and 13-year-old daughter Payton, in the fatal incident on January 26, 2020.

The pair sued LASD for emotional and mental distress after they learned that the department’s members had shared photos of the victims’ bodies.

According to court documents, photographs of the victims’ remains were shared publicly on at least 28 LASD-owned devices. One of the witnesses, Victor Gutierrez, said he was approached by the sheriff’s deputy trainee Joey Cruz during his shift as a bartender and asked if he wanted to see a photo of the bodies.

Another witness, a bar patron identified as Ralph Mendez Jr., said he had witnessed the interaction.

Ms. Bryant said she had asked Sheriff Alex Villanueva to protect the crash site from paparazzi. However, just three days after the accident, the Los Angeles Times published a report on the photos.