KOBE Bryant’s widow is demanding cops hand over phones after they allegedly shared photos of the dead bodies of the star and his daughter Gigi.
The latest move in Vanessa Bryant ‘s lawsuit comes as it is claimed a staggering 66 agents have knowledge relevant to the case, The Sun can reveal.
Widow Bryant landed a court victory in being able to name four of the Los Angeles County Sheriff's deputies who allegedly took and shared graphic photos of the helicopter crash .
Their names were revealed last month when she posted images of lawsuit documents she filed against Los Angeles County, the Sheriff's Department, the County Fire Department, and the deputies in question.
Now, new court documents obtained by The Sun claim that a total of 66 agents or employees of the Sheriff's Department and Fire Department had knowledge relevant to the case, including 18 who allegedly “took, shared, or possessed photos of the accident scene.”
Vanessa has now demanded phones and other devices be inspected by a third-party firm who will examine their contents.
The filing reads: “Plaintiffs have served demands to inspect the electronic devices and cloud-based storage accounts” of Defendants Joey Cruz, Raul Versales, Rafael Mejia, and Michael Russell.
In addition, Vanessa has requested that they produce any "relevant devices and accounts in the possession, custody, or control of the Sheriff's Department or Fire Department."
Court papers state Plaintiffs also intend to serve subpoenas on at least ten additional Sheriff and Fire Department personnel known to have possessed photos of the accident scene on their personal cell phones.
“While the Parties have not yet agreed on which devices will be examined, the Parties are meeting and conferring on an inspection protocol under which a neutral third-party firm will forensically examine the relevant devices and accounts,” the papers read.
“The Parties anticipate a time-intensive examination process and that the neutral examiner's findings may identify areas for further discovery.”
Matthew Mauser, whose wife Christina died in the crash, is also listed as a Plaintiff, along with Christopher Chester, who lost his wife Sarah, and 13-year-old daughter, Payton.
The filing also states: “The Parties propose that Plaintiffs file a consolidated complaint by no later than May 7, 2021 in which Plaintiffs may join additional individual defendants.”
A fourth set of plaintiffs will also bring suit against the defendants this month, with J.J. Altobelli and Alexis Altobelli , whose parents and sister tragically perished in the helicopter crash.
Alexis turns 18 on April 27 and the family plan to relate their action to the same lawsuit, it is claimed.
Vanessa's lawsuit alleged that within 48 hours of the crash, photos had spread to at least 10 members of the department.
One deputy, it is alleged, had taken between 25 and 100 photos of the crash scene on his cell phone.
There were also disturbing allegations about what those deputies did with the photos of Kobe, Gigi and the other passengers .
The second part of the lawsuit she shared included allegations that officer Joey Cruz showed crash photographs to a bartender at the Baja California Bar and Grill in Norwalk, California.
One of the customers described his alleged actions as “very, very disturbing”.
The bartender filed an official complaint with the Sheriff's department while sitting in his car after leaving the restaurant, according to court docs.
The lawsuit also accuses Cruz of showing the photos to his niece .
He also allegedly made “a crude remark about the state of the victims’ remains.”
It comes as:
- Joey Cruz , Rafael Mejia, Michael Russell and Raul Versales have been named as defendants in the civil rights lawsuit filed by Vanessa Bryant
- The legal action follows the horrific January 26, 2020 crash
- The crash was blamed on helicopter pilot Ara Zobayan 's decision to fly in fog when he ‘didn’t know which way was up’
The Los Angeles Sheriff’s Department refused to disclose whether the four officers – Cruz, Mejia, Russell and Versales – were still serving officers when asked by The Sun.
The LASD previously refused to answer any questions or provide any information into whether they had investigated the matter or taken any disciplinary action against the four cops when contacted.
The Sun has now submitted six official public record requests to the LASD.
Even addressing reporters in March 2020, Sheriff Villanueva stated: “Unfortunately, ever since they invented the Polaroid camera, this has been a problem in law enforcement across the nation, probably across the world, because it just makes it so much easier.
“And then there's – there's cops – they keep death books, for example, where . . . they have photos from crime scenes throughout their careers.”
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In her lawsuit, Vanessa’s lawyer Lui Li wrote: “The Sheriff's and Fire Departments' outrageous actions have caused Mrs Bryant severe emotional distress and compounded the trauma of losing Kobe and Gianna.
“Mrs Bryant feels ill at the thought that sheriff's deputies, firefighters,
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