County to discuss settlement for Kobe helicopter crash pictures

Los Angeles County Seal.

The Los Angeles County Board of Supervisors is set to discuss Tuesday settlements with two of the families whose loved ones died in the helicopter crash that killed Kobe Bryant last year.  

The crash gained international attention when the public became aware that the aircraft was carrying — among the nine total passengers — Bryant and his daughter Gianna.  

A total of four lawsuits filed against the county stem from the Bryant, Chester Mauser and Altobelli families, who learned that personnel with the Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department and Fire Department shared pictures of the Jan. 26, 2020, crash site, including “photos that depicted the remains of their loved ones.”      

“The Mauser and Altobelli plaintiffs claim that members of LASD and Fire improperly took and shared photos of the crash site, including photos that depicted the remains of their loved ones,” reads the L.A. County Board of Supervisors agenda. “Plaintiffs allege that LASD and Fire personnel violated their constitutional rights to control the death images of their loved ones and their privacy rights, by taking and sharing photos of their loved ones’ remains, and that the county is responsible for its employees’ actions.” 

According to Vanessa Bryant’s lawsuit, one of the four LASD deputies accused had sent two pictures of the aircraft crash to an unidentified deputy at the Santa Clarita Valley Sheriff’s Station. The relationship between the accused deputy and the SCV Sheriff’s Station deputy is said to be of a personal nature, and the photos were shared two days after the crash occurred. The deputy who received the pictures, which reportedly included “human remains” that belonged to Kobe Bryant, was not working the Calabasas crash site. 

The vote during Tuesday’s board meeting will decide whether to approve settlements with the Mauser and Altobelli families. The settlements would result in payment of $1.25 million to the Mauser plaintiffs and $1.25 million to the Altobelli plaintiffs. 

The county, as of the publication of the agenda, has paid $1,292,592 in legal fees with regard to the four lawsuits. 

Vanessa Bryant’s lawsuit remains pending. 

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