A Los Angeles jury in the United States is due to retire on Wednesday to deliberate in the case of the photos of the helicopter crash that killed Kobe Bryant, and for which the widow of the basketball superstar claims several million dollars. Officers from the sheriff’s office as well as firefighters dispatched to the scene of the accident in January 2020 had taken pictures at the scene, including photos of the remains of Kobe Bryant and his 13-year-old daughter, Gianna, who also died in the drama. The civil trial in Los Angeles exposed how some first responders showed those photos to people outside the case, including a bartender. A sheriff’s office officer had also sent them to a friend while the two were playing video games.
On the defense side, Los Angeles County argued that the footage never became public and that its senior officials were quick to erase it from officers’ electronic devices. But during the two-week trial, Vanessa Bryant and Chris Chester – whose wife and daughter also died in the crash – recounted their constant fear that the images would one day be revealed to the general public on the internet. Mr. Chester’s lawyer, Jerry Jackson asked the jury on Tuesday to award the two plaintiffs one million dollars for each year of their estimated life expectancy. A figure that would rise to 40 million dollars for Vanessa Bryant, 40 years old, and 30 million dollars for Chris Chester, 48 years old. Jerry Jackson thus qualified the sum of “just and reasonable compensation”. “There is no sum of money too great to compensate for what they have been through”he said.
Vanessa Bryant’s attorney, Craig Lavoie, told him he wanted justice and that those involved be held accountable. ‘We are here because of intentional behavior: the county violated the constitutional rights of Ms. Bryant and Mr. Chester’, he said. The debates concluded on Wednesday and the jury must now retire to deliberate. Other families of victims were awarded $2.5 million in compensation last year in the same case. An investigation concluded that the helicopter pilot was responsible for the accident, a “misjudgment” having led to its “disorientation” in the middle of thick fog.
The death at 41 of Kobe Bryant, emblematic player of the Los Angeles Lakers and considered one of the best basketball players in history, had caused great emotion around the world.