Another Kobe Bryant Accident Photo Lawsuit Settles As His Wife Vanessa’s Continues To Move Forward

Kobe Bryant during interview
(Image credit: Valuetainment)

There have been a number of legal battles at play related to the tragic death of NBA legend Kobe Bryant, his 13-year-old daughter, Gianna, and seven others in a 2020 helicopter crash. The late athlete's wife, Vanessa Bryant, has filed suit against the first responders who allegedly took photos of the crash site and circulated them. In addition, another individual who lost relatives due to the tragic accident is seeking legal restitution. While those cases are still ongoing, it would seem that another one has settled. 

The union for the Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department had been engaged in a legal battle against Sheriff Alex Villanueva and 20 unidentified individuals in an attempt to halt the release of the final internal affairs reports on the helicopter crash. Per Spectrum 1 News though, over two years after filing suit, the organization has settled on the matter. Lawyers for the group recently filed the notice of settlement. Had the legal proceedings continued, a non-jury would’ve taken place on September 13th.

In February 2020, the sheriff said that he’d tasked eight deputies with deleting photos of the crash site from their devices after they allegedly took said pictures while on the scene. The aforementioned internal investigation, however, was initiated when it was discovered that deputies had shared photos within the department and reportedly in one public situation. 

The LASD union’s petition mentioned a May 2020 press conference, where Alex Villaneuva provided an update, saying that they were “still completing the investigation.” He also noted that when it was finished, the department “will be releasing it publicly with all the information that will answer all your questions.” Villaneuva reportedly doubled down on the department’s intention to “make the entire investigation public so everybody can read it for themselves,” during another presser ten days later. Following the recent settlement, officials did not publicly divulge terms.

Elsewhere, Vanessa Bryant continues to pursue legal action against Los Angeles County. She filed suit in November 2021, though the proceedings have been delayed somewhat due to the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic. Most recently, there was a slight setback on the plaintiff’s part, as Bryant’s legal team was scolded for presenting too much evidence during a pre-trial hearing. Additionally, there’s been another significant development related to her lawsuit. 

Christopher Chester, whose wife and daughter were unfortunately killed in the crash, is also suing in relation to the photos. However, it was recently determined that his suit cannot be consolidated with Mrs. Bryant’s. In other words, LA County argued that Chester cannot “ride Bryant’s coattails.” The motion referred to this as “an unusual case” since it involves such a “revered icon” like Kobe Bryant. 

That level of recognizability has been evident since Kobe Bryant’s passing. In the aftermath, stars like Jimmy Fallon have paid tribute on the anniversary of his death. And others have further solidified his legacy by purchasing Bryant-related memorabilia. Vanessa Bryant has also sought to continue his legacy. She has also paid tribute to Kobe on his birthdays and, shortly after he passed, she told a sentimental story involving the dress from The Notebook.

The settlement of the LASD union’s suit marks the closing of a significant chapter in the aftermath of the basketball legend’s passing. But with Vanessa Bryant and co. still seeking legal satisfaction, things appear to be far from over.

Erik Swann
Senior Content Producer

Covering superheroes, sci-fi, comedy, and almost anything else in film and TV. I eat more pizza than the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles.