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LA County Sheriff and Fire Chief to give statement in Kobe Bryant trial for photos of crash, judge judge

LOS ANGELES – A federal judge on Tuesday ordered the Los Angeles County Sheriff and Fire Chief to file depositions in a lawsuit over the alleged sharing of photos from the helicopter crash that killed Kobe Bryant .

The lawsuit, brought by Bryant’s widow Vanessa Bryant, involves allegations that first responders shared photos of the Jan. 26, 2020 crash that killed NBA legend, their 13-year-old daughter Gianna, and seven other people.

In his decision on Tuesday, Examining Magistrate Charles F. Eick wrote that Sheriff Alex Villanueva and Fire Chief Daryl Osby appear to have “unique, non-repetitive first-hand knowledge” that is relevant.

Bryant is suing Los Angeles County and several agencies alleging privacy breaches and other allegations.

Eick granted a motion from Bryant’s attorneys to compel Villanueva and Osby’s depositions, but given their duties, limited them to four hours each.

The county had fought the decision to testify the two officials, arguing that they are not named accused, that generally the heads of government agencies are not the subject of depositions and that other witnesses have the information sought.

“While we disagree with the court’s decision, we will make both the sheriff and the fire chief available for deposition,” Skip Miller, an outside Los Angeles County lawyer, said in a statement. “Their testimony will not change the fact that there is no evidence that all photos taken by county first responders have already been released publicly.”

Federal investigators discovered that the pilot’s “spatial disorientation” likely caused the crash.

The lawsuit claims that first responders, including sheriff’s deputies and county firefighters, took graphic photos of the bodies without any legitimate government purpose. Photos of Kobe Bryant’s remains were reportedly shown to a bartender and bar patron in one case.

The Los Angeles Times first reported last year that sheriff’s deputies shared photos of the crash scene. Villanueva later said eight MPs took or shared photos, and he ordered and then deleted.

According to a transcript of her testimony, Vanessa Bryant pleaded with Villanueva to make sure no one took any photographs, and he reassured her that the area had been secured.

She said in a deposition that she had repeatedly received disturbing images on social media of the helicopter crash, according to a transcript. Bryant said she wanted accounts.

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