Villanueva ‘Encouraged’ destruction of Bryant Crash Photos

LOS ANGELES, California – Los Angeles County Sheriff Alex Villanueva told Vanessa Bryant’s lawyers under oath that he was urging deputies to delete photos taken at the scene of the helicopter crash that killed Kobe Bryant, the couple’s 13-year-old daughter and seven others, a lawsuit was filed. Tuesday shows.

In a county brief, Villanueva, quoted in several passages taken from his clarification in Bryant’s trial, said he asked deputies to get rid of the images to ensure the graphic images were not shared, causing more harm to the families of the victims.

“I can tell you that,” the sheriff said in the recent episode. “That problem was that pictures came out and hurt the families. I make decisions based on the immediate threat, which is an injury that those pictures can cause to the family. I do not make a decision based on the fact that I can be sued for six months later. That’s absurd. “

Lawyers for Bryant are urging the judge to punish the county for the alleged destruction of almost all evidence that deputies took and shared photos on the spot.

According to Vanessa Bryant’s advance on sanctions, members of the Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department, who were among the first responders at the crash site on January 26, 2020, wrongfully destroyed cell phone images in the direction of Villanueva, who knew he was obligated to preserve such potential evidence. .

“Yet that is exactly what Sheriff Villanueva himself ordered the department’s staff to do after the department received a citizen’s complaint that a sheriff’s deputy showed pictures of the crash site at a bar in Norwalk,” Bryant suggested. “That order was very irregular – without precedent in the experience of deputies – and outside the chain of command. When a captain complained, the sheriff demoted him.”

Earlier Monday, the judge ruled that Bryant should hand over her mental health records, which Los Angeles County attorneys claim are central to the fight against her lawsuit, which alleges emotional distress caused by the sharing of crashes among the sheriff’s deputies and others.

U.S. Judge Charles Eick ordered Bryant and her therapist to produce the records before Nov. 29, but limited the coverage period from Jan. 1, 2017, to today. The county had requested her records from January 2010.

Skip Miller, Los Angeles County’s external attorney, responded that the plaintiff’s request for medical records is standard in such cases.

“The county continues to have nothing but the deepest sympathy for the enormous grief that Mrs. Bryant suffered as a result of the tragic helicopter crash,” Miller said in a statement. “We are pleased that the court has granted our request for access to her records, as it is a standard request in litigation where a plaintiff demands millions of dollars for allegations of emotional distress.”

But Bryant lawyer Mari Saigal argued in court papers that the defense effort to get the records “should be seen for what it is: an attempt to bully Mrs Bryant to drop her case to prevent her private therapy journals from being made public. right and reported on by the media. “

Bryant’s widow claims she and her family suffered severe emotional distress after discovering the sheriff’s deputies snapped and shared gruesome images of the helicopter crash site.

The legal battle between Bryant and the county intensified in previous weeks as county attorneys sought to get Bryant to undergo a psychiatric examination ahead of the trial scheduled for February. Lawyers argued in court papers that she can not have serious ailments from crash photos she and the public have never seen. Eick rejected the proposal.

The county claims Bryant’s allegations of emotional distress are based on allegations that deputies showed photos from the crash site to other first aiders and to a bartender.

But the widow claims the photos were also shared with attendees at an awards ceremony, a customer at a Norwalk bar, a city firefighter who was not a county employee, the niece of a sheriff’s deputy and a friend of another deputy.

“Contrary to the plaintiff’s claims, the photographs did not focus on the remains of any of the victims, but were general views of the scene of the accident, which first aiders and investigators typically use to assess the damage caused by tragic accidents like this,” according to the county document. “None of the photographs were sent to anyone outside the county, nor were they disseminated publicly.”

The county apparently wants to show that any emotional distress came from the loss of family members, not the cell phone pictures, which they claim Bryant has never seen and only learned about from newspaper reports.

“Mrs. Bryant is seeking millions of dollars in compensation for severe emotional distress, anxiety and mental anxiety, allegedly caused by public dissemination of photographs, which has not happened,” the case said.

“She is also seeking compensation for defendant who allegedly ‘compounded the trauma’ of losing her husband and daughter. Plaintiff claims she is depressed and has difficulty sleeping. Her claim for damages is based solely on these mental and emotional injuries. The plaintiff’s therapy records go directly to her emotional state, which she has directly questioned in this trial. “

Bryant won a separate legal victory in the case when Villanueva and Fire Chief Daryl Osby were ordered to be deposed in the case. The sheriff testified under oath last week and it was not immediately known if Osby has been ousted.

Fred Schuster, City News Service

Read more:

Leave a Comment