A jury on Wednesday ordered Los Angeles County to pay $31 million in damages over photos rescue workers took of the helicopter crash that killed Kobe Bryant.
Officers from the sheriff's office as well as firefighters dispatched to the crash site in January 2020 had taken snapshots at the scene, including photos of the shredded remains of Kobe Bryant and of 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 when of the two-week trial, Vanessa Bryant, the widow of the basketball superstar, 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.
The two plaintiffs, who alleged emotional harm and whose complaints have been merged, had filed lawsuits.
The county was ordered on Wednesday to pay $16 million to Vanessa Bryant and $15 million to Chris Chester.
Mr. Chester's attorney, Jerry Jackson, had asked the jury on Tuesday to award the two plaintiffs $1 million for each year of their estimated life expectancy, or $40 million for 40-year-old Vanessa Bryant and $30 million for 48-year-old Chris Chester.
Jerry Jackson called these demands “fair and reasonable compensation.”
“There is no sum of money too large to compensate for what they have been through,” he said.
Vanessa Bryant's lawyer, Craig Lavoie, told him that he demanded 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,” had – he advanced.
The jury reached its verdict on Wednesday after approximately four and a half hours of deliberation.
Other families of victims were awarded 2 last year .5 million dollars in compensation in the same case.
An investigation concluded that the pilot of the helicopter was responsible for the accident, an “error in judgment” having caused his “disorientation” in the middle of a 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 provoked aroused great emotion around the world.