A federal jury awarded $31 million in damages to Vanessa Bryant and co-plaintiff Christopher Chester after finding Los Angeles County liable for infringing on the constitutional rights in the helicopter crash in January 2020, according to CNN. As we previously reported, the pair sued the Los Angeles County Sheriff and Fire Departments over graphic photos of the helicopter crash that claimed the lives of Kobe, Gianna Bryant, and seven others.
Baseball coach John Altobelli, his wife Keri, and daughter Alyssa. Basketball coach Christina Mauser, pilot Ara Zobayan and Christopher’s spouse Sara Chester and their daughter Payton also lost their lives in the crash.
In an emotional two-week trial, a group of nine federal jurors heard a graphic testimony. The jurors deliberated for approximately three and a half hours before reaching their decision. The deliberations began shortly after an attorney for Los Angeles County argued that the trial was a “pictures case with no pictures.” The attorney noted that the gruesome photos of human remains have never been seen by the public — or even the plaintiffs, Vanessa Bryant and Christopher Chester.
County attorney Mira Hashmall said in the trial’s closing arguments, “No pictures are good. No pictures mean no public dissemination… no risk of other people making mistakes.” Vanessa’s attorney Luis Li emotionally argued the county’s actions in taking such photos were reckless and inhumane and caused emotional distress.
He added, “They poured salt into an unhealable wound, and that’s why we’re all here today.” The verdict couldn’t come on a better day as August 24th is recognized as Kobe Bryant day to honor the Los Angeles Lakers star’s two jersey numbers, 8 and 24. Kobe wore both numbers during his NBA career, and the Lakers have retired. Following the verdict, Vanessa took to her social media to share a message.
Our thoughts continue to go out to the entire families of loved ones involved in this tragedy.