Update: Kobe Bryant – Jury Awards Plaintiffs $31 Million in Lawsuit Over Crash Photos, Vanessa Awarded $16 Million

Vanessa Bryant Breaks Down In Tears As Kobe Bryant’s Crash Photos Are Revealed During Opening Statements In Trial Against L.A. County

Update #1 (Aug. 24th): A jury ordered Los Angeles County to pay Vanessa Bryant, widow of Lakers star Kobe Bryant, and another man $31 million in damages for the graphic photos sheriff’s deputies and firefighters took of the 2020 helicopter crash scene that killed Bryant, his daughter, and seven others. In reaching the verdict after only a few hours of deliberations, jurors made it clear they had been persuaded by attorneys for Bryant and Chris Chester, who argued that illicit photos of the crash victims’ bodies had violated their clients’ right to privacy and inflicted emotional distress. Chester lost his wife, Sarah, and daughter, Payton, in the crash. Vanessa was reportedly awarded $16 million in damages and Chris Chester awarded $15 million.

Original Story: Vanessa Bryant has been trying her hardest to keep her composure in court. 

Vanessa Bryant

Recently in court, Vanessa Bryant broke down into tears when her lawyer addressed the jury in opening statements. According to her attorney, eight Los Angeles County Sheriff’s deputies were amused by the photos taken at the crash scene of the bodies of the late NBA legend Kobe Bryant and his daughter Gianna Bryant.

Gianna Bryant, Kobe Bryant


Vanessa Bryant’s lawyer alleged the deputies took the pictures “for a laugh like they were souvenirs” and “poured salt in an unhealable wound” by saving the images for personal use. In court, Vanessa Bryant’s lawyer also played the evidence of a Sheriff’s detective who claimed his wife didn’t want to see the footage of the dead bodies when he told her they appeared as “piles of meat.”

The lawyer said the 40-year-old’s family means everything to her and now she lives “in fear, anxiety and terror,” and will be forever haunted by what the deputies did. The case also touches on the deputies who took photos of Kobe Bryant and Gianna Bryant and shared them with outside sources. One deputy allegedly showed the graphic photos to a woman at a bar. The widow alleged that the actions of the deputies caused her severe emotional distress and also added that it was an invasion of privacy for her family. However, counterclaims allege that Vanessa is facing emotional distress from the passing of her husband and daughter, not from the photos. 

Two years ago a bill was passed called the Kobe Bryant Act, making it a crime for authorities to share photos of a deceased person at a crime scene for purposes unrelated to the case. If found guilty of this crime one would have to pay a $1,000 fine. 

As previously reported, on January 26, 2020, Kobe Bryant, Gianna Bryant, and seven others boarded a helicopter as they were traveling to a basketball game at Mamba Sports Academy. Almost a half-hour into the helicopter ride, the helicopter crashed into the side of a mountain in Calabasas. All nine passengers were killed on impact. The investigation regarding the leaked photos began in February of 2020.  The Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department said at the time:

“…the matter is being looked into.”

What are your thoughts on Los Angeles County Sheriff’s deputies allegedly sharing the photos of Kobe Bryant and his daughter’s lifeless body for their personal use? Share your thoughts with us in the comments below.


Authored by: Tsai-Ann Hill