A federal jury awarded $31 million in damages to Kobe Bryant’s widow and her co-plaintiff on Thursday after finding the Los Angeles County Sheriff’s and Fire departments liable for infringing on their constitutional rights for taking and sharing gruesome photos of the January 2020 helicopter crash that left nine people dead.
Vanessa Bryant was awarded $16 million in damages and Christopher Chester was awarded $15 million.
The verdict stems from photos taken by LA County deputies and firefighters in the immediate aftermath of the crash that killed Kobe Bryant, the legendary Los Angeles Lakers player, his daughter Gianna, Chester’s wife, Sarah, his daughter Payton and five others. The National Transportation Safety Board determined the helicopter pilot pushed the limits of bad weather flying rules before he crashed into a hillside in Calabasas, California.
The photos included not just wreckage of the helicopter but close-up images of the mangled bodies of those killed.
Bryant and Chester argued that the photos of their loved ones caused emotional distress and violated their privacy. Each testified to living in fear the photos may surface, despite the county’s assertion the pictures had been destroyed.