4:49 p.m. PT – An emotional Lakers general manager, Rob Pelinka, has spoken – barely able to speak when talking about how truly special his relationship with Kobe was. Pelinka says he still considers Kobe his best friend, and having Kobe as a friend was like knowing a superhero.
Pelinka revealed he was at church when he got a call about the helicopter crash and rushed to meet Vanessa at John Wayne Airport. Pelinka says deputies took him and Vanessa near the crash site, and they were promised the area would be kept private.
Pelinka says Vanessa fought to protect her family’s beauty, and if photos from the scene were to come out, there are fears what it could do to her daughters. He also revealed that in June 2020, Vanessa traveled to the crash site to hit the ground where Kobe and GiGi were before going to heaven.
Vanessa Bryant burst into tears as her attorney addressed the jury in his opening statements, saying the 8 Los Angeles County Sheriff’s deputies who took photos of the bodies of her husband and child took the photos “for a laugh as if they were memories”.
Vanessa’s lawyer said the deputies “poured salt into an incurable wound” by using their mobile phones to take pictures for personal use. The lawyer described “images of shattered bodies, close-ups of limbs and burnt flesh”.
The lawyer played the deposition of a sheriff’s detective who said his wife didn’t want to see the photos, and that’s when he told her they showed “piles of meat “.
The attorney says Vanessa lives “in fear, anxiety and dread” that one day she and her family will see the photos.
The lawyer said Vanessa’s kids were everything to her, Kobe was everything to her, and she will be forever haunted by what the deputies have done.
Core of the case involves LA County Sheriff’s Deputies who took photos of the bodies of Kobe and his daughter Gianna at the scene of the accident and then shared them with colleagues. In one case, a deputy allegedly showed the photos to a woman in a bar, and the bartender is the one who blew the whistle on him.
Vanessa claims in the lawsuit … that the deputies’ conduct caused her severe emotional distress, adding that it was an invasion of privacy. LA County attorneys responded by saying Vanessa’s emotional distress was rooted in the crashnot the pictures.
Governor of California Gavin Newsom signed a bill 2 years ago – called the Kobe Bryant Act – make it a crime for first responders to share photos of a deceased person at a crime scene for purposes unrelated to the case. The crime is punishable by a fine of $1,000.