AceShowbiz - Kobe Bryant's widow has scored a win in a lawsuit over photos of his helicopter crash scenes. On Monday, March 8, a federal judge ruled that Vanessa Bryant can obtain the names of four Los Angeles County Sheriff Department deputies, who allegedly took or shared grisly photos of the scene of the helicopter accident that killed her husband and their daughter Gianna Bryant.
U.S. District Judge John F. Walter rejected an effort by Los Angeles County lawyers to keep the deputies' names under seal in the lawsuit. The lawyers argued that "hackers may attempt to seek out and gain access to the individual deputies' devices to locate any photographs and publish them."
Judge Walter said in his ruling that this is "totally inconsistent with their position that such photographs no longer exist." Sheriff Alex Villanueva previously confirmed that all photos of the crash that were in the possession of those deputies have been deleted.
The judge stated, "Although the Court recognizes that this case has been the subject of public scrutiny and media attention and that the Deputy Defendants are legitimately concerned that they will encounter vitriol and social media attacks, such concerns, by themselves, are not sufficient to outweigh the public's strong interest in access."
The judge additionally wrote in a ruling that "Sheriff Villanueva's promise to publicly release the [internal affairs bureau] report after the conclusion of the investigation undermines Defendants' purported concern in the disclosure of the limited excerpts at issue here." Local court rules give the county four days to appeal the ruling.
In February, Vanessa criticized the sheriff's department for trying to redact the names of the accused deputies. "The Sheriff's Department wants to redact the names of the deputies that took and/or shared photos of my husband, daughter and other victims," she wrote in a statement posted on Instagram. "Anyone else facing allegations would be unprotected, named and released to the public. ... These specific deputies need to be held accountable for their actions just like everyone else."
The ruling means Vanessa and her lawyers can add those names to her civil rights lawsuit against L.A. County and the sheriff's department.