On the witness stand in her federal lawsuit against Los Angeles County, Vanessa Bryant recalled being at home with her family and breastfeeding her 7-month-old daughter Capri, when she learned of a Los Angeles Times report on the county’s agents. sheriff who shared the graphic photos.
“I just remember not wanting to respond because the girls were in the room,” she testified, her voice raised with emotion. “I said, ‘I can’t do this.’ …And I shot out of the house and ran to the side of the house so the girls couldn’t see me. I wanted to run… down the block and just scream. I can’t escape my body. I can’t escape what I feel.”
Along with Chris Chester, whose wife and daughter also died in the crash, Bryant filed a federal civil lawsuit alleging that Los Angeles County had violated their privacy and caused emotional distress through the distribution of the photos that, according to witness statements, were not. to contain, to contain. only helicopter wreckage, but the mutilated bodies of the victims.
Bryant told her testimony about her interaction after the crash with Los Angeles County Sheriff Alex Villanueva, who told her her husband and daughter had been killed.
“I’m sorry, Mrs. Bryant. Can I do something for you?’ Bryant remembered Villanueva’s question.
“If you can’t bring my babies back, please secure the area. I’m worried about paparazzi,” she recalled.
The sheriff assured her he would, but he stayed in the room, Bryant said. She urged him to leave and consider her request immediately.
According to Bryant, Villanueva got out and returned, telling her that he had arranged a temporary flight restriction over the area through the Federal Aviation Administration.
Bryant testified that she had to remove comments from her Instagram feed after the images were circulated. Her attorney, Luis Li, showed a comment sent to her shortly after the LA Times story was published.
“I’m leaking Kobe’s body,” the message read, including helicopter and fire emojis.
Defense attorneys have indicated in court files that they plan to crack down on Bryant’s own Instagram posts, including one from Halloween in which she dressed as Cruella de Vil, a villain depicted in Disney movies.
“They say there are five stages of grief: denial, anger, bargaining, depression and acceptance. Well, I’d like to add one more… revenge. – Cruella,” the caption reads.
Li asked Bryant about the post. She testified that the costume choice was consistent with other Halloween outfits she’s worn, including the Wicked Witch from “The Wizard of Oz” and Darth Vader.
Bryant said she dresses up as the bad characters to let her girls be the good ones.
The defense is expected to be Sheriff Villanueva . to call
The trial so far has seen testimony from several law enforcement officers, including one deputy who testified that he showed graphic footage of the scene while at a bar, another deputy who said he shared photos while playing a video game, a deputy who sent dozens of photos to someone he didn’t know, and a firefighter who showed the images to other personnel during an awards cocktail hour.
Chester testified on Thursday, saying he lives in fear that the graphic photos taken of the bodies of his loved ones will one day resurface.
Chester took the stand after several days of law enforcement testimony — some of them apologized, gave details about the graphic nature of the photos, and explained why they were being taken and shared and why they were ordered to be removed.
Bryant has listened in court to the testimonies of every witness except the coroner. She walked out of the courtroom abruptly when a bartender testified that she had seen photographs.
As the final witness before the prosecution, Bryant’s testimony is expected to last approximately three hours.
Time permitting, the defense is expected to call Villanueva as the first witness, followed by LA County Fire Chief Anthony Marrone.
Kobe Bryant, 41, and Gianna Bryant, 13, were among nine people killed in the January 26, 2020 helicopter crash on a hillside in Calabasas, California.
They were flying to a girls’ basketball game at Bryant’s Mamba Sports Academy in Thousand Oaks when the helicopter crashed, leaving no survivors.
CNN’s Ray Sanchez contributed to this report.