Vanessa Bryant wept heavily on Wednesday as she sat in a federal courthouse in Los Angeles, CA. She listened as her attorney, Luis Li, spoke of the Los Angeles County first responders’ “culture of callousness” that resulted in the unauthorized photos of her late husband Kobe Bryant, their daughter Gianna, and the other seven people killed in that fateful helicopter crash over two years ago.
“January 26, 2020, was and always will be the worst day of Vanessa Bryant’s life,” Li told the jury, as reported by Rolling Stone. “County employees exploited the accident. They took and shared pictures of Kobe and Gianna as souvenirs…. They poured salt in an unhealable wound.”
At one point, Li even played video of one off-duty deputy showing pics of the crash site from his phone, allegedly in hopes of impressing a bartender. Ms. Bryant will forever have to live “in fear, anxiety and terror” of those photos being publicly leaked to the world.
County lawyer J. Mira Hashmall began her defense by acknowledging that pics were taken. “Site photography is essential,” she said. However, she rebuffed the notion that the photos would ever make it further than they already have.
“They’re not online. They’re not in the media. They’ve never even been seen by the plaintiffs themselves,” she added, “That is not an accident. That is a function of how diligent [the sheriff’s and fire department] were.”
But more so, Hashmall contended the video played by Li was edited for effect. She clarified that the deputy in question found himself troubled by what he saw, and the bartender was his friend in whom the deputy confided.
“He pulled out his phone, and that should not have happened,” Hamshall shared. “In a lapse, in a moment of weakness, he showed those photos, and he has regretted it every day of his life.”
“There is no doubt these families have suffered,” she was also sure to highlight. “It’s unspeakable. But this case is not about the loss from the crash. It’s about the pictures.”
Hashmall also provided the following in a statement to Rolling Stone: “The county continues to express its deepest sympathies for the families that suffered this terrible loss. The county has also worked tirelessly for two and half years to make sure its site photos of the crash were never publicly disseminated. The evidence shows they never were. And that is fact, not speculation.”
The trial was initially expected to last one week, but it may reportedly take twice as long before a final judgement is rendered.