In a series of Instagram posts on Wednesday, Vanessa Bryant revealed the names of the four Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department deputies who allegedly took or shared grisly photos of the scene of the helicopter crash that killed her husband, NBA legend Kobe Bryant, their daughter Gianna, and seven others.
The posts were of an amended complaint – filed Wednesday in U.S. District Court in Los Angeles and obtained by CNN – that named deputies Joey Cruz, Rafael Mejia, Michael Russell, and Raul Versales as the defendants, in addition to Los Angeles County, its sheriff and fire departments. The lawsuit seeks damages, claiming negligence and invasion of privacy.
The complaint alleges Cruz “boasted that he had worked at the scene of the accident where Kobe Bryant had died” and showed photos of the crash site to a bartender and a bar patron on January 28, 2020, two days after the crash.
On the same day, Cruz also showed the photos of the Bryants’ remains to his niece, according to the complaint.
The bartender who saw the photos then shared with other customers that he had seen the photos and “described specific characteristics of Mr. Bryant’s remains,” the complaint states.
One of the customers found this situation “very, very disturbing” and emailed a complaint to the sheriff’s department, describing the deputy.
Another deputy, Russell, allegedly shared photos with a friend with whom he “plays video games nightly,” the complaint said.
Vanessa Bryant won her case earlier this month to disclose the names of the deputies allegedly involved. Attorneys for the LASD and Los Angeles County wanted to keep the deputies’ names and ranks sealed, arguing that “hackers may attempt to seek out and gain access to the individual deputies’ devices to locate any photographs and publish them,” according to court documents.
In February, she had called for the sheriff’s department to release the names of the deputies, saying they must be held accountable.
“Mrs. Bryant looks forward to presenting her case in open court,” Vanessa Bryant’s attorney Luis Li said in a statement to CNN.
The Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department did not immediately respond to a request for comment.
“We respect the judge’s decision,” the Association for Los Angeles Deputy Sheriffs President Ron Hernandez said in a statement. “Our main concern is for the privacy of all parties involved.”