As part of her testimony in an ongoing lawsuit against LA County officials, Vanessa Bryant recently revealed that she learned of her husband’s death via “RIP Kobe” messages on social media.
The notifications started coming in hours before she received a formal confirmation from the Los Angeles Sheriff’s Office on Jan. 26, 2020. As she was trying to reach her husband and daughter Gianna to check on them, Bryant says she couldn’t avoid the alerts.
“I was holding onto my phone,” she says, “because obviously I was trying to call my husband back, and all these notifications started popping up on my phone, saying ‘RIP Kobe. RIP Kobe. RIP Kobe’.”
Bryant filed a lawsuit against the sheriff’s department, the Los Angeles fire department and Los Angeles County over the way the organizations’ employees handled sensitive details of the helicopter accident that killed Kobe, their 13-year-old daughter and seven others. Her complaint alleges that first responders and others investigating the crash site took photos of what were believed to have been Kobe and Gianna’s bodies.
“I don’t think it’s fair that I’m here today having to fight for accountability,” reads a transcript of Bryant’s deposition, which was filed on Oct. 22. “Because no one should ever have to endure this type of pain and fear of their family members. The pictures getting released, this is not okay.”
The photos in questions, many of which had either been sent to Bryant directly or made available online, were presented as evidence by her attorney. During the deposition, defense attorney Louis Miller asked her to look at the photos several times, causing for some tense moments in court.
While addressing the fact that representatives of the sheriff’s department had her wait until sheriff Alex Villanueva himself was available to confirm Kobe’s death, Bryant also revealed that she had specifically asked the department to prevent anyone from being able to take photos of the bodies.