Vanessa Bryant's lawyers claim at least 18 county employees took or shared graphic Kobe crash photos

The lawyers for Vanessa Bryant in her lawsuit against Los Angeles County say they've learned that many more fire and police department employees had possession of grisly crash site photos than they originally thought.

Bryant is suing L.A. County over employees taking and sharing photos of the bodies of her late husband, Kobe Bryant, and their daughter Gianna, at the helicopter crash site where they and seven other people died in Jan. 2020. In March, Bryant herself released the names of four sheriff's deputies who have been accused of taking and sharing anywhere from 25 to 100 photos, but four may have been a conservative number.

Attorneys claim over 80 city employees involved

According to the latest filing, Bryant's lawyers claim that at least 18 fire or police department employees took or possessed crash site phots, and many more have information related to the photos.

“Mrs. Bryant has since learned that the number of LASD and LAFD employees who took, shared, and/or possessed improper photos of the accident scene is actually eighteen (and counting) and that 66 county employees have relevant knowledge of the misconduct,” said the federal court filing, via USA Today.

Since the misconduct “is both more expansive and more egregious than (Bryant) originally understood," they're requesting more time for discovery, which would give them more time to investigate and depose additional witnesses.

One of those witnesses is L.A. County Sheriff Alex Villanueva. According to the suit, he told the four deputies that if they "came clean" and deleted the photos from their phones, they wouldn't face any discipline. However, a sheriff's captain was allegedly concerned that deleting the photos would be considered destroying evidence and put a stop to it. Bryant's legal team is seeking to verify those claims.

Fire department involvement

When the lawsuit was first filed, only police department employees were named. But the suit may be increasing its scope. According to Bryant's lawyers, they uncovered an internal fire department investigation which found that two fire department employees took photos of bodies at the crash site and shared them with a third employee.

“According to the reports and letters, two Fire Department employees took photos of victims’ remains at the crash site that 'served no business necessity' and instead 'only served to appeal to baser instincts and desires for what amounted to visual gossip,'" the filing read via USA Today.

NBC News reported that the investigation concluded in December and both employees were given "intent to discharge" letters, which indicated that they would be fired. The current employment status of those employees isn't known.

Sherriffs and officials investigate the helicopter crash site of NBA star Kobe Bryant in Calabasas, California, U.S., January 27, 2020.     REUTERS/Danny Moloshok     TPX IMAGES OF THE DAY
At least 18 county employees are accused of taking or sharing graphic photos of the Kobe Bryant crash site. (REUTERS/Danny Moloshok) (Danny Moloshok / reuters)

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