Deposition: Vanessa Bryant recounts learning about deaths of NBA legend, daughter

LOS ANGELES — Vanessa Bryant, the widow of NBA legend Kobe Bryant, claims in court papers that she has experienced “severe emotional distress” that has compounded the trauma of losing her husband and 13-year-old daughter, according to a deposition.

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Attorneys for Vanessa Bryant filed the partially redacted excerpt of her deposition in court this week, the Los Angeles Times reported. In the excerpt, Vanessa Bryant recounted her account of the day when her husband, daughter and seven others were killed in a helicopter crash.

Details of the deposition were included in a New York Times report about Vanessa Bryant’s lawsuit against Los Angeles County. She alleges that first responders -- including firefighters and deputies with the Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department -- shared photographs of Kobe Bryant’s body with a bartender and passed around “gratuitous photos of the dead children, parents and coaches.”

Read the deposition here.

Kobe Bryant, his daughter and seven other people including the pilot were killed Jan. 26, 2020, when the helicopter they were aboard, on their way to a girls basketball tournament, crashed in foggy conditions in the hills west of Los Angeles, The Orange County Register reported. Federal safety officials blamed pilot error for the wreck, the newspaper reported.

Among the items excerpted in the deposition:

· After an assistant to the Bryant family told her about the crash, Vanessa Bryant attempted to contact her husband by cellphone. Originally told there were five survivors, Vanessa Bryant said notifications that said “RIP Kobe” appeared on her screen.

· Vanessa Bryant said she pleaded with Los Angeles County Sheriff Alex Villaneuva to make sure no one took photographs from the crash site. He reassured her that the area had been secured, according to court documents. “And I said: ‘If you can’t bring my husband and baby back, please make sure that no one takes photographs of them. Please secure the area,’” Vanessa Bryant said during the deposition. “And he said: ‘I will.’ And I said: ‘No, I need you to get on the phone right now and I need you to make sure you secure the area.’”

A message seeking comments from Villanueva has not been returned, according to the Register.

At issue is whether the county can conduct independent medical examinations, which involve psychiatric evaluations, of each of the plaintiffs, The New York Times reported.

Bryant’s lawyers contend the examinations are “cruel,” the newspaper reported.

“When public servants violate the privacy and constitutional rights of the citizens they swore to protect and serve, the victims must run a gauntlet to seek justice,” Bryant’s lawyers argued.

Los Angeles County contends that the “a routine part of the discovery process,” according to court filings.

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