Kobe Bryant’s wife Vanessa Bryant has filed an amended lawsuit on Wednesday that listed the names of the Los Angeles County Sheriff’s deputies who reportedly shared graphic images of the helicopter crash site where her husband, daughter, and seven others died early last year.
Taking it to Instagram, Vanessa shared several pages of the federal lawsuit she filed against LA County, the LA County Fire Department, the sheriff’s department, and four deputies, Joey Cruz, Rafael Mejia, Michael Russell, and Raul Versales as the offenders.
The officers’ names were first edited when Bryant first filed suit in September, but a judge ruled earlier this month that they could be made public even though county lawyers argued that releasing the names could expose them to possible online attacks.
Vanessa Bryant’s legal file holds deputies responsible for sharing photos of the January 26, 2020 splash crash site in Calabasas, including images of her late husband and daughter Gianna’s bodies.
“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 court documents reads.
One person among the deputies, Mejia, has been accused of obtaining several images of Kobe and Gianna’s remains and distributing them to at least two people, “without any legitimate governmental purpose.”
Mejia is also accused of sending the photos to Cruz and to a female deputy who had no business in the investigation for no reason other than morbid gossip. Meanwhile, Cruz who was a trainee deputy then reportedly shared the images of the remains with a lot of people including Russell and several others.
Mejia reportedly showed the image to his niece and to a bartender in Norwalk, Calif., two days after the crash with the filing doc. adding that “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.”
A bar patron later told department investigators that it was “very inappropriate for that deputy to be there at that environment, showing those pictures to other individuals,” according to the court documents.
Russell, who allegedly asked Cruz for the images, is accused of texting them to a sheriff’s deputy pal with whom he played video games, while Versales, reportedly obtained multiple pics of Bryants’ remains, stored them on his phone, and shared them with several others in the department, including Mejia.
The lawsuit is charging the department as it “failed to take basic steps to ensure all copies of the improper photos [were] tracked down and sequestered.” Bryant is now suing for negligence, invasion of privacy, and a 14th Amendment violation.