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Kobe Bryant’s widow Vanessa awarded £13.5m in damages over helicopter crash pics

Kobe Bryant's widow has been awarded $16million (£13.5m) in damages over leaked snaps of the helicopter crash that killed the US basketball star and his daughter.

Vanessa Bryant, 40, said she had suffered panic attacks after finding images taken by Los Angeles county sheriff's deputies and firefighters had been shared in the wake of the 2020 incident.

A federal jury has now said the county must pay Mrs Bryant for emotional distress, with co-plaintiff Christopher Chester being awarded $15m (£12.7m).

READ MORE: Kobe Bryant dead: NBA legend's heartbreaking last Instagram post before helicopter crash

LA Lakers legend Kobe Bryant, 41, daughter Gianna, 13, along six family friends died when their helicopter crashed in California, while Mr Chester lost his wife Sarah and daughter Payton.

CNN reported that after more than three hours of deliberation, the jury found the Los Angeles County Sheriff and Fire Department liable for infringing on the constitutional rights of the pair.

Following the verdict, Mrs Bryant hugged her attorneys, and as she continued to cry, she then embraced her daughter Natalia in the front row.

She left the courthouse without making a statement, but did post a picture of her, Kobe Bryant and their daughter Gianna on Instagram with the caption: "All for you! I love you! JUSTICE for Kobe and Gigi!"

County attorney Mira Hashmall released a statement after the verdict, saying: "We will be discussing next steps with our client. Meanwhile, we hope the Bryant and Chester families continue to heal from their tragic loss."

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The jury found both the sheriff's and fire department lacked proper policies and training which caused the violation of the family's rights.

The only claim not supported by jurors was in a finding that the county fire department was not liable for any long-standing widespread practice or custom of taking illicit pictures. 

The sheriff's department was found liable for the same issue.

The trial centred around photos taken by LA county deputies and firefighters that included not just wreckage from the helicopter, but the bodies of those killed.

CNN explained that the National Transportation Safety Board had ruled the helicopter pilot pushed the limits of bad weather flying rules before he crashed into a hillside in Calabasas, California.


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