Entertainment

Kobe Bryant’s Wrongful Death Lawsuit Has Tragically Been Moved To Federal Court Despite Vanessa Bryant’s Pleas

Updated October 7, 2020.

Soon after basketball player Kobe Bryant was killed in a Jan. 26 helicopter crash alongside his 13-year-old daughter, Gianna, and seven others, reports surfaced from the Los Angeles Times that L.A. County sheriff’s deputies had captured and shared photos of the accident site. Abominably, these images included pictures of the victims. Worse, deputies allegedly continued to share the photos in the days following the horrific accident that transpired in Calabasas, California.

During a time when she should have been allowed to mourn, Bryant’s wife Vanessa Bryant worked to file a lawsuit against the Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department alleging violation of privacy.

Bryant’s wrongful death lawsuit against the owner of Kobe Bryant’s doomed helicopter has been moved to federal court.

Bryant’s lawsuit claimed Island Express is liable for the deaths of her husband and daughter because the helicopter was only licensed to fly in visually navigable conditions.

According to paperwork obtained by the Daily News, Bryant filed her original wrongful death complaint against Island Express Helicopters this past February at Los Angeles County’s Superior Court. In response, the helicopter company filed a cross-complaint against two federal air traffic controllers, “triggering the venue change.”

Vanessa’s lawyers have argued that the removal was made as part of a “transparent and untenable attempt to forum-shop their way into federal court.”

“Defendants unlawfully and improperly seek to deprive Mrs. Bryant of her lawful choice of forum in California state court,” the lawyers argued in a September filing.

In response to Bryant’s lawsuit, California Governor Gavin Newsom signed a bill in September to prohibit first responders from taking photographs of deceased victims ″outside of job duties.”

AB 2655 was signed by Newsom on Monday and prohibits first responders from taking photographs, not related to job duties, of deceased victims. According to KCBS, Violation of the law will result in a misdemeanor.

AB 2655 states that “Existing law generally prohibits a reproduction of any kind of photograph of the body, or any portion of the body, of a deceased person, taken by or for the coroner at the scene of death or in the course of a post mortem examination or autopsy, from being made or disseminated. Existing law generally makes a person who views, by means of any instrumentality, including, but not limited to, a camera or mobile phone, the interior of any area in which the occupant has a reasonable expectation of privacy, with the intent to invade the privacy of a person or persons inside, guilty of a misdemeanor. This bill would make it a misdemeanor for a first responder, as defined, who responds to the scene of an accident or crime to capture the photographic image of a deceased person for any purpose other than an official law enforcement purpose or a genuine public interest. By creating a new crime, the bill would impose a state-mandated local program. The bill would require an agency that employs first responders to, on January 1, 2021, notify those first responders of the prohibition imposed by the bill. By increasing the duties of local agencies, the bill would impose a state-mandated local program.”

The images of the crash site victims occurred despite a personal request from Vanessa Bryant to Sheriff Alex Villanueva on the morning of the crash to request the site be secured for privacy.

This was a legal claim filed against the department in May.

″In reality, however, no fewer than eight sheriff’s deputies were at the scene snapping cell-phone photos of the dead children, parents, and coaches,″ the document filed by Vanessa explained ″As the Department would later admit, there was no investigative purpose for deputies to take pictures at the crash site. Rather, the deputies took photos for their own personal purposes.”

Vanessa Bryant filed a lawsuit against the Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department.

On Jan. 26, a helicopter carrying Kobe and Gianna Bryant, Payton and Sarah Chester, Alyssa, Keri, and John Altobelli, Christina Mauser, and pilot Ara Zobayan crashed in the Calabasas hills. The sudden death devastated those who knew Kobe and the city of Los Angeles that mourned his death for months after.

Vanessa was shocked to hear that the sheriff deputies took photos of her husband’s and daughter’s bodies at the crash site.

“This lawsuit is about accountability and about preventing this disgraceful behavior from happening to other families in the future who have suffered loss,” Vanessa’s attorney, Luis Li, said in a statement. “The department formally refused Mrs. Bryant’s requests for information, saying it was ‘unable to assist’ with any inquiry and had no legal obligation to do so. It’s now for a court to tell the department what its obligations are.”

Bryant sued the department claiming damages for emotional distress, negligence, and invasion of privacy.

Kobe fans are upset with the LACSD and the allegations that the deputies took these photos.

According to TMZ, Sheriff Alex Villanueva knew about the photos taken by eight deputies and shared within the department. They were also shared in the Lost Hills Sheriff’s substation. Sheriff Villanueva told the deputies to delete the photos from their phones and felt confident they did so.

A trainee allegedly shared the photos with a woman in a bar.

A witness to the event said that a trainee took out his phone and showed a woman the photos to impress her. The bartender overheard the conversation and filed an online complaint about the trainee and their behavior with the photos. The trainee showed the woman the photos a few days after the crash leading many to believe that the sheriff’s department was fully aware of the photos.

Kobe fans are standing behind Vanessa as she follows through with her lawsuit.

Reports state that the sheriff’s department told deputies to delete the images to avoid disciplinary action. The coverup is sparking outrage by Kobe fans who are angered that the department did not do enough to protect the dignity and privacy of all of the victims of the crash.

Mitú will update this story as it continues to develop.

READ: Vanessa Bryant Forced To Respond To ‘Beyond Hurtful’ Comments Made By Her Own Mom On ‘El Gordo y La Flaca’

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Vanessa Bryant Celebrates Like A Proud Mom As Daughter Natalia Announces She’s Going To USC

Entertainment

Vanessa Bryant Celebrates Like A Proud Mom As Daughter Natalia Announces She’s Going To USC

STEPHEN DUNN / GETTY

The Bryant Family has been through a lot since losing the Black Mamba along with 13-year-old Gianna. But despite the trauma, they’ve been working hard to maintain a sense of normalcy for themselves and a huge part of that, for 18-year-old Natalia, has been getting into college.

Well, now Natalia along with her very proud mother and fans around the world are celebrating her accomplishments as she’s announced that she’s been accepted into the University of Southern California (USC.)

Kobe Bryant’s daughter Natalia is going to USC and her family couldn’t be more proud!

It looks like Kobe Bryant’s daughter is going to become a Trojan. Natalia Bryant was accepted into the University of Southern California on Tuesday to the excitement and delight of her closest family and friends. Vanessa Bryant shared emotional footage of the moment Natalia found out she got into the LA-based university and expressed her pride and joy in her oldest daughter.

“Tears of joy. I’m SO happy for you Nani! I know daddy is so PROUD OF YOU. I am so PROUD OF YOU!! Your hard work and dedication was so worth it,” Vanessa captioned the video.

“You pushed through the most excruciating pain imaginable and you succeeded. I wish Daddy and Gigi were physically here to celebrate but I know they’re here in spirit. We love you so much! #USC #Trojan #FightOn

Proud mamacita even had custom USC Black Mamba Nikes made for the celebration.

In the other Vanessa video, she showed off all the gifts she gave Natalia for the accomplishment, and they included balloons, USC swag and some custom Trojan-themed Kobe kicks.

Her USC acceptance comes on the heels of another big announcement for the 18-year-old.

The past few weeks have been full of great news for Natalia. She just recently announced that she had been accepted into both Loyola Marymount and University of Oregon, but recently confirmed she would be headed to USC in the fall.

“See You Soon @uscedu !❤️💛” she captioned a photo of herself wearing a USC baseball hat and shirt. “Fight On✌🏽”

And it was just a few weeks ago that news came that she signed with IMG Models.

“I have always been interested in fashion since a very young age,” Natalia said in a statement. “I have a love for the industry and ever since I can remember I wanted to model. There is a lot to learn but I feel this is a great opportunity for me to learn and express myself creatively.”

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The Bryant Family Has Filed Trademarks For ‘Mamba, Mambacita’ Amidst Apparel Line Reports

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The Bryant Family Has Filed Trademarks For ‘Mamba, Mambacita’ Amidst Apparel Line Reports

Elsa / Gelsons

Since the tragic deaths of her husband Kobe Bryant and daughter Gianna Bryant, Vanessa Bryant has made her mission to secure and preserve their legacy an obvious one. From pursuing justice for theirs and the other victims of the helicopter crash that took their lives, to ensuring the creation of memorials in their name, Bryant has made a point of making sure none of the victims of the fateful crash are forgotten.

More recently, Vanessa Bryant has set out to protect the ‘Mamba’ brand.

According to a recent report, an attorney for Bryant filed a trademark application for ‘Mamba’ and ‘Mambacita’ in early March.

While there’s little known about what Bryant intends to do with the brand names, the report suggests that the current agenda is to use the trademark for merchandise such as shirts, hoodies, jackets, and pants.

Kobe’s estate has filed for several trademarks related to his brand including ‘Mamba Sports Academy,’ ‘Mambacita,’ ‘Lady Mambas,’ and ‘Lil Mambas.’ 

The association with Bryant and the “Mamba” concept goes back to his days on the court where he was affectionately known as the Black Mamba. Bryant gave himself the nickname after a period of struggle. In a 2015 documentary called Muse, Kobe explained that he created the alter ego of Black Mamba to cope with off-the-court struggles in 2003.

“I went from a person who was at the top of his game, had everything coming, to a year later, having absolutely no idea where life is going or if you are even going to be a part of life as we all know it,” Bryant explained in the documentary. “I had to separate myself… It felt like there were so many things coming at once. It was just becoming very, very confusing. I had to organize things. So I created The Black Mamba.”

The Mamba name carried into his retirement when he left the NBA after twenty years. At the time, Bryant set out to coach and mentor younger children interested in sports at the Mamba Sports Academy, a training facility that he opened in California. Bryant’s daughter Gianna, 13, was a member of the Mambas girl’s team.

When the Bryants’ daughter Gianna began to come into her own on the basketball court, she took on the nickname “Mambacita.” 

On a recent cover feature for People Magazine, Vanessa Bryant explained that she’s found motivation in her devastating loss.

During an interview for the magazine’s ‘Women Changing the World’ issue, Bryant revaled “This pain is unimaginable [but] you just have to get up and push forward. Lying in bed crying isn’t going to change the fact that my family will never be the same again. But getting out of bed and pushing forward is going to make the day better for my girls and for me. So that’s what I do.”

Bryant also recently reportedly took over Granity Studios, her husband’s multimedia company, and also relaunched Mamba & Mambacita Sports Foundation which is focused on “creating positive impact for underserved athletes and young women in sports” and “provides funding and sports programming for underserved athletes to enable participation in school and/or league sports that enrich socio-emotional and physical development.”

Speaking to People about her efforts, Bryant explained, “I guess the best way to describe it is that Kobe and Gigi motivate me to keep going. They inspire me to try harder and be better every day. Their love is unconditional and they motivate me in so many different ways.”

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