The names of the Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department deputies who shared horrific photos from the Kobe Bryant crash site will now be public, which Vanessa Bryant has been fighting for since September.
Lawyers for the agency argued the deputies would be subject to unwanted public scrutiny so their names should not be public. However, according to The Los Angeles Times, U.S. District Judge John F. Walter wrote in his March 8 ruling, “Indeed where the case involves allegations of police misconduct, the public has a vested interest in assessing the truthfulness of the allegations of official misconduct.”
The ruling continued, “Although the Court recognizes that this case has been the subject of public scrutiny and media attention and that the Deputy Defendants are legitimately concerned that they will encounter vitriol and social media attacks, such concerns, by themselves, are not sufficient to outweigh the public’s strong interest in access.”
According to CNN, Bryant’s attorney Luis Li praised the judges ruling. He said in a statement, “Transparency promotes accountability. We look forward to presenting Mrs. Bryant’s case in open Court.”
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In September, Bryant filed a lawsuit against the Los Angeles County Sheriff and his department due to leaked photos of the crash.
Earlier this month, according to NBC News, Bryant called out the Los Angeles Sheriff’s Department for not releasing the names of the deputies, writing in her Instagram stories, “They want their names to be exempt from the public. Anyone else facing these allegations would be unprotected, named and released to the public.”
She also added, “Kobe’s name was released when he was accused in 2003. Why should sheriffs get away with hiding? #doublestandard”
Vanessa Bryant is referring to when Kobe was accused of rape in 2003, which became an international story.
In March 2020, the Times reported that deputies were asked to delete any photos of the incident after the Department received a complaint that an official with the Sheriff’s Department was showing photos at a bar. The L.A. Sheriff’s Department has been accused of having a long history of sharing photos from investigations involving celebrities, including the 2009 attack on singer Rihanna by her then-boyfriend, performer Chris Brown.
Kobe, Gianna, along with seven other people, were killed on January 26, 2020 while taking a helicopter to the Mamba Academy for basketball practice in nearby Thousand Oaks, Calif.