Vanessa Bryant is keeping her foot on the necks of the LA deputies who allegedly shared images of her late husband Kobe Bryant’s body following the deadly crash that also killed her daughter Gianna and seven other passengers.
The New York Post reports that Bryant wasted no time sharing the names of the Los Angeles County sheriff’s deputies after a judge ruled earlier this month she could make the names public. Bryant shared several pages of the lawsuit she originally filed in September on her Instagram account, but this time the names of the officers involved are no longer redacted. According to the suit she filed against LA County, the LA County Fire Department, the sheriff’s department, and four deputies, these are the officers involved: joey Cruz, Rafael Mejia, Michael Russell, and Raul Versales.
County lawyers originally argued that releasing the officers’ names would lead to online harassment. Welp looks like that wasn’t enough to convince the judge to rule in their favor.
Bryant’s suit alleges the officers shared images from the Jan. 26, 2020, crash site in Calabasas, including photos of Kobe and the couple’s 13-year-old daughter Gianna.
“According to the Sheriff’s Department’s subsequent investigatory report, one deputy, in particular, took between 25 and 100 photos of the crash scene on his personal cell phone, many of which had no conceivable investigatory purpose and
were focused directly on the victims’ remains,” the documents explicitly detail.
Rafael Meija, one of the deputies named in the suit, shared the photos of Kobe and Gianna with numerous people “without any legitimate governmental purpose.”
He allegedly sent the photos to Joey Cruz and another female deputy who has not been named in the suit “for no reason other than morbid gossip,” the lawsuit claims.
Cruz, who was just a trainee at the time, even shared the photos with numerous people, including his niece and a bartender in Norwalk, Calif., just two days after the crash.
According to the filing, “Shortly after seeing the photos, the bartender loudly boasted to restaurant employees and patrons that he had just seen a photo of Kobe Bryant’s body and described the image in graphic detail.”
Court documents revealed that a patron who was at the bar at the time said it was“very inappropriate for that deputy to be there at that environment, showing those pictures to other individuals.”
The filling charges state that Versales allegedly stored Bryant’s photos on his cellphone and shared them with several other people in the department, including Meija.
Bryant is suing for negligence, invasion of privacy, and a 14th Amendment violation. It sounds like she has a VERY STRONG case.
Photo: JEAN-BAPTISTE LACROIX / Getty