Kobe Bryant crash photos trial: Jury asked to award millions to Vanessa Bryant, co-plaintiff

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Wednesday, August 24, 2022
Jury asked to award millions to plaintiffs in Kobe Bryant photos trial
The jury will likely begin deliberating Wednesday in the federal trial over photos taken at the scene of a helicopter crash that killed Kobe Bryant, his daughter and seven others in January 2020.

LOS ANGELES (KABC) -- The jury will likely begin deliberating Wednesday in the federal trial over photos taken at the scene of a helicopter crash that killed Kobe Bryant, his daughter and seven others in January 2020.

Vanessa Bryant and Chris Chester -- whose wife and daughter were also killed in the crash -- are suing L.A. County for negligence and invasion of privacy after members of the sheriff's and county fire department took dozens, possibly hundreds, of graphic photos of bodies at the scene and then shared them with others.

Closing arguments began on Tuesday, with attorneys for Bryant and Chester summing up their cases and telling jurors how several L.A. County sheriff's deputies and firefighters took and/or shared those photos.

Bryant teared up as her attorney described a firefighter taking pictures of her daughter Gianna's mangled body to keep as "souvenirs."

Kobe Bryant photos trial: Former LA County fire captain testifies, walks off witness stand 3 times

A former L.A. County fire captain walked off the witness stand three times during testimony while being questioned about whether he took photos of human remains at the helicopter crash scene that killed Kobe Bryant and eight others.

One again, the jury was showed video of a sheriff's deputy showing the photos to a bartender and laughing.

This comes after acting Fire Chief Anthony Marrone, called by county attorneys, testified on Monday that he issued a direct order the day of the crash for fire personnel to "exercise sensitivity" with any photographs that were taken, given Bryant's celebrity status and the high amount of media attention.

But former L.A. County Fire Capt. Brian Jordan is accused of taking close-up photos of the victim's body parts and sending the images to L.A. County Fire Capt. Tony Imbrenda.

On February 15, 2020 -- a few weeks after the crash -- Imbrenda was part of a group of public information officers being honored at the Golden Mike Awards. He admits he showed photos to his colleagues during the event's cocktail hour, but denies the photos included Kobe Bryant. He also denies that he showed those photos to the wife and girlfriends of his firefighter colleagues.

RELATED: Vanessa Bryant gives emotional testimony in Kobe crash photos trial

Vanessa Bryant took the stand Friday in the trial over photos taken at the site of the helicopter crash that killed her husband Kobe Bryant and their daughter.

Attorneys also accused Imbrenda of orchestrating what they called a mass evidence deletion campaign, telling others in the fire department to get rid of the photos. They also described how every sheriff's deputy accused of having the gruesome photos either lost or discarded their phones, making it impossible for investigators to search for the photos.

Bryant's attorney said "either the photos will surface, confirming their worst fears or they'll spend the rest of their lives living in fear that they will."

Jerry Jackson, Chester's attorney, told jurors that they should award $2.5 million to both Bryant and his client for emotional pain and suffering, and anywhere from $100,000 to $1 million a year for the rest of their lives.

Jackson called the tally "a fair and reasonable compensation. You can't award too much money for what they went through."

In his summation, attorney Craig Lavoie mentioned that Tuesday would have been Kobe's 44th birthday. The attorney said it was "an honor to stand here today asking for justice and accountability'' on behalf of the basketball great, his widow and the couple's daughter.

"We're here because of intentional conduct -- the county violated Mrs. Bryant and Mr. Chester's constitutional rights," Lavoie said, asking the jury to hold the county liable for "the constitutional violations of its employees."

The county is expected to address the jury in Los Angeles federal court Wednesday morning. After rebuttal, the jury will begin deliberations.

Kobe Bryant photos trial: OC man who lost wife, daughter in crash describes day of accident

"It was grief on top of grief," said Chris Chester, an Irvine financial adviser whose wife and 13-year-old daughter were among the nine people killed in the crash.

RELATED: Vanessa Bryant's attorney argues photos of Kobe Bryant's remains shared 'for a laugh'

Vanessa Bryant's invasion of privacy trial against the Los Angeles County sheriff's and fire departments began Wednesday in a U.S. District Court just over a mile from where Kobe Bryant played most of his career with the Lakers.

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The man who sparked the investigation over unauthorized photos taken at the site of the helicopter crash that killed Kobe Bryant is speaking out.

City News Service contributed to this report.