Vanessa Bryant Names Sheriff's Deputies Who Allegedly Shared Photos of the Kobe Bryant Crash Scene

Last week, a judge dismissed efforts by the Los Angeles Sheriff's Department to keep the deputies' names sealed in a lawsuit

Vanessa Bryant has publicly shared her legal complaint against the Los Angeles County Sheriff's Department that names the four deputies who allegedly shared unauthorized and graphic photographs of the January 2020 helicopter crash that killed NBA legend Kobe Bryant, his daughter, Gianna, and seven others.

On Wednesday, Vanessa, 38, shared multiple screenshots of the filing on her Instagram account.

While she did not caption any of the screenshots, Vanessa did circle those listed as defendants in red, which included the Los Angeles County Sheriff's Department, the Los Angeles County Fire Department and four individuals: Joey Cruz, Rafael Mejia, Michael Russell and Raul Versales.

A spokesperson for the Los Angeles County Sheriff's Department did not immediately respond to PEOPLE's request for comment.

The Los Angeles County Fire Department declined to comment when reached by PEOPLE, citing pending litigation.

Vanessa Bryant
Vanessa Bryant. John Salangsang/Invision/AP/Shutterstock

In the document Vanessa posted, her legal counsel said that she had spoken with LASD Sheriff Alex Villanueva on the morning of the crash to request the site be secured for privacy.

This "assurance was hollow," her legal counsel claimed, as "sheriff's deputies who responded to the crash used personal cell phones to take gratuitous photos of the dead children, parents, and coaches," the document read.

"Photos of the remains quickly spread within the Sheriff's Department as deputies transmitted them to one another via text message and AirDrop," the filing read. "Within forty-eight hours, at least ten members of the Sheriff's Department obtained photos of the victims' remains on their personal cell phones despite having no legitimate governmental use of the photos."

The complaint sets out Bryant's allegations about each of the deputies.

Vanessa Bryant
Vanessa Bryant. FREDERIC J. BROWN/AFP via Getty

According to the filing, Mejia, a deputy at the LASD, responded to the general proximity of the crash site on Jan. 26, 2020 and "obtained multiple photographs of Bryants' remains and stored them on his personal cell phone."

Mejia sent the photos to "at least two individuals without any legitimate governmental purpose," including Cruz, a trainee deputy, according to the document.

Cruz, who Vanessa said had "no role in investigating the accident or identifying those who perished," then allegedly texted the photos to Russell, another deputy in the department, after Russell had asked to see them.

According to the document, Cruz also showed the photos to his niece during a visit to his mother's house and to a restaurant patron and bartender at the Baja California Bar and Grill in Norwalk, Calif.

PEOPLE previously reported how in March 2020, Villanueva confirmed to NBC's Today Show that a then-unnamed deputy trainee was allegedly seen showing the inappropriate photos at a bar and that afterward, someone who overheard the conversation alerted authorities.

RELATED VIDEO: Vanessa Bryant Mourns Kobe and Gianna Bryant on First Anniversary of Fatal Accident

After obtaining the photos from Cruz, Russell allegedly shared them with a sheriff's deputy from another station not involved in the investigation and also texted the pictures to his friend's personal cell phone.

Versales, Vanessa claimed in the document, obtained multiple photos from the crash site while he was stationed at the nearby makeshift command post and shared them with Mejia and a detective in the department who "had no reason ... to receive them."

Only the county coroner's office and investigators with the National Transportation Safety Board were permitted to photograph the scene, Villanueva confirmed to reporters at the time.

"That is the only two groups of people," Villanueva said last March. "Anybody outside of that would be unauthorized. They'd be illicit photos."

Vanessa's posting of her legal claim against those who allegedly took and shared unauthorized photographs from the crash site comes just a week after a judge dismissed efforts by the LASD to keep the deputies' names sealed in the lawsuit.

Related Articles