(Bloomberg) -- Kobe Bryant’s widow says she’s determined to get justice for the basketball star and her daughter Gianna with a lawsuit over the distribution of graphic photographs of a crash site where they were killed.
“I’m willing to go through hell and back to get justice for my husband and daughter,” Vanessa Bryant told a jury in federal court, a short distance from the arena where her husband played for the Los Angeles Lakers for 20 years.
The mother of three surviving children said she sued Los Angeles County and the sheriff’s department because she wanted to know what happened with the photo sharing and to find a solution to prevent a recurrence in the future. She claims the county and the department were negligent and her privacy was invaded.
She said she’s still afraid the pictures depicting the remains of Kobe Bryant and Gianna will show up in public, noting she had received threats that would happen.
“I live in fear every day of being on social media and having these photographs pop up,” Vanessa Bryant told the jury of nine people. “I want to remember my husband and my daughter the way that they were.”
“Gianna has the kindest heart,” Vanessa Bryant, dressed all in black, said. “She still is my sunshine.”
Kobe Bryant, widely regarded as one of the best professional basketball players of all time, was killed with his daughter and seven others when the helicopter they were travelling in crashed in cloudy weather in January 2020.
The jury heard earlier in the trial that a sheriff’s department deputy shared grisly photos from the scene with a fellow deputy while the two were playing the video game “Call of Duty.” Another deputy admitted showing pictures to a bartender while a firefighter showed photos on his phone to a small group of people who were attending an awards ceremony in February 2020.
Los Angeles Sheriff Alex Villanueva took the stand after Bryant, testifying the department had ordered deputies to delete the photos from their phones immediately after a citizen complained about a deputy showing them to people in the bar.
It was a decision Vanessa Bryant questioned during her testimony. She compared deleting the photos to deleting images in a child pornography case, which would be evidence for investigators.
“Even if the pictures were very graphic, you would want a proper investigation,” she said.
Vanessa Bryant told the jury she received an Instagram message from someone threatening to leak pictures of Kobe’s body. She said she disabled comments on her account after that.
She said she found out about the photo sharing from a Los Angeles Times article in February 2020 and had panic attacks as a result. She testified that when she found out she ran out of her house to avoid breaking down in front of her children.
“I felt like I just wanted to run down the block and just scream,” she said, sobbing several times during her testimony.
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