Jury Awards Vanessa Bryant $16M Over Crash Photos

Sheriff's deputies and firefighters passed around images of remains of Gianna and Kobe Bryant
By Evann Gastaldo,  Newser Staff
Posted Aug 16, 2022 2:30 AM CDT
Updated Aug 24, 2022 6:55 PM CDT
Fire Captain Leaves Stand Mid-Testimony 3 Times in Kobe Bryant Trial
Vanessa Bryant, the widow of Kobe Bryant, leaves a federal courthouse in Los Angeles, Wednesday, Aug. 10, 2022.   (AP Photo/Jae C. Hong)

(Newser) Update: In a unanimous verdict, a federal jury decided Wednesday that Los Angeles County must pay Vanessa Bryant $16 million over its handling of photos of her husband's body taken at the site of the NBA star's fatal helicopter crash. Sheriff's deputies and firefighters took and shared photos of the remains of Kobe Bryant and their 13-year-old daughter Gianna, which a lawsuit argued invaded the family's privacy and caused emotional distress. Vanessa Bryant cried quietly in the courtroom as the verdict was read, the AP reports. Our story from Aug. 15 follows:

As a former Los Angeles fire captain was questioned in court Monday over whether he took pictures of Kobe Bryant's body at the scene of the NBA star's fatal helicopter crash, he left the witness stand three times. "I need a break, I need a break. Sorry, your honor," said Brian Jordan the first time he walked off, per CNN. Prosecutors say Jordan was led around the crash site by a sheriff's deputy to take photographs of the scene, and he'd just been asked if Bryant's remains were among those photos. Asked later whether he took pictures of specific body parts, Jordan said, "The way the whole scene looked, that's going to haunt me forever, and excuse me cause I'm about to take another break." At other points, he said, "Thank you, now I see intestines in my head," and told the judge, "I don't want to hear this drama."

Each of the three times, he left with his attorney, who told CNN the exits were made because of "a medical condition associated with his viewing of the crash scene and it causes him to suffer trauma." At other times, Jordan, who retired last year, testified that he had repressed memories of that day and does not remember taking photographs, which he says he was ordered to do by a supervisor. A fire chief, however, has denied that claim, TMZ reports. The testimony came as part of Vanessa Bryant's federal civil lawsuit alleging invasion of privacy; she says the photographs were distributed and she lives in fear that they will be posted online. Also Monday, a sheriff's deputy who was among those who shared the photos amongst themselves acknowledged that it was wrong of him to show the photos to a bartender friend. (Read more Kobe Bryant stories.)

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