LA Sheriff Alex Villanueva Dismissed in Kobe Bryant Crash Scene Pictures – CBS Los Angeles

LOS ANGELES (CBSLA) Los Angeles County Sheriff Alex Villanueva was ousted Wednesday in the federal lawsuit filed by the widow of Kobe Bryant over personal cell phone photos allegedly shared by deputies and LA County firefighters from the site of the 2020 helicopter crash that killed the Lakers legend, his teenage daughter and seven others.

FILE – Investigators are working on the site of the helicopter crash, in which former NBA star Kobe Bryant and eight others were killed. January 28, 2020 in Calabasas, California (Getty Images)

LA County attorneys had tried to block Villanueva from facing a landfill.

However, U.S. Judge Charles F. Eick last month rejected the county’s argument, ruling that both Villanueva and LA County Fire Chief Daryl Osby should testify under oath because they appear to have “unique first-hand, non-repetitive knowledge” useful to the trial. . Each deposition was limited to four hours.

It was not immediately known where the deposit took place or its length, but it is expected that the session was videotaped for use during the trial. A source did not say whether Osby has yet been ousted.

Last week, Judge Eick also rejected a request from LA County attorneys for Vanessa Bryant to undergo a psychiatric evaluation in the case.

On January 26, 2020, a helicopter carrying Lakers legend Bryant, his daughter Gianna and seven others crashed into heavy fog in Calabasas, killing all nine people on board. Among them were 56-year-old John Altobelli, a longtime baseball coach at Orange Coast College in Costa Mesa, his 46-year-old wife Keri and their 13-year-old daughter Alyssa. Also on board was 38-year-old Christina Mauser, a wife, mother and basketball coach from Huntington Beach.

On October 2, the LA County Board of Supervisors approved a $ 2.5 million settlement with the families of Mauser and Altobellis over the unauthorized sharing of photos of the crash site.

Last September, Vanessa Bryant filed her own federal lawsuit in the case. The trial is scheduled to begin in February.

Also in September last year, and in response to the photo scandal at the accident site, California Governor Gavin Newsom signed a bill it makes it a misdemeanor for first aiders to take and share pictures of accidents and crime scenes for any purpose other than an official law enforcement purpose or a genuine public interest.

Vanessa Bryant’s lawyers claim that a few days after Villanueva promised Bryant to secure the place and make sure no pictures were circulated, a civilian came forward and complained that a sheriff’s deputy had shown the pictures at a bar in Norwalk.

It was also alleged that a firefighter showed cell phone pictures to a group of firefighters and their partners during an awards ceremony.

LA County has responded in court papers by citing personnel who had access to photos from the crash site taken as part of the investigation, and denied that photos were shown to unauthorized persons.

When Villanueva heard about allegations that a deputy intern had revealed the pictures on his phone to a person in a bar, the sheriff opened an investigation, the county said in a lawsuit.

The court documents also claim that all personal photos taken by deputies have since been deleted.

“The department determined that all personnel who had taken, shared, or received photos from the crash site had actually deleted them,” according to LA County attorneys. “No one had sent a picture to anyone outside the LASD. To this day, and despite media exaggeration about ‘leaked’ photos, no pictures of county-run crashes have ever been publicly circulated.”

Bryant’s widow is seeking millions of dollars in compensation for alleged emotional distress caused by allegations that the photos were shared.

A evidentiary hearing is scheduled for November 29.

(© Copyright 2021 CBS Broadcasting Inc. All rights reserved. City News Service contributed to this report.)


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