The names of four Los Angeles County sheriff’s deputies who are alleged to have shared “unauthorized” photos taken at the site of the helicopter crash that killed Kobe Bryant and eight others can be obtained by Vanessa Bryant to be included in her civil rights lawsuit against the county, a federal judge ruled Monday.
U.S. District Judge John F. Walter ruled against county attorneys who argued the deputies’ names should remain under seal because releasing them would make their personal information, including addresses, accessible online and possibly make them targets for hackers, the Los Angeles Times reported.
“Indeed where the case involves allegations of police misconduct, the public has a vested interest in assessing the truthfulness of the allegations of official misconduct, and whether agencies that are responsible for investigating and adjudicating complaints of misconduct have acted properly and wisely,” Walter wrote in his ruling.
The county has four days to appeal.
Bryant attorney Luis Li told The Times “transparency promotes accountability. We look forward to presenting Mrs. Bryant’s case in open court.”
Bryant’s lawsuit alleges Sheriff Alex Villanueva personally assured her that deputies were securing the crash site to ensure her privacy, the Los Angeles Times reported.
“In reality, however, no fewer than eight sheriff’s deputies were at the scene snapping cellphone photos of the dead children, parents and coaches,” the claim states, according to The Times.
“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.”
Bryant seeks damages for negligence and invasion of privacy.
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