Los Angeles County filed a court document requesting that Vanessa Bryant undergo an independent evaluation for psychiatric reasons. This is the latest development in her lawsuit versus the county ..
Bryant, 39, sued Los Angeles County and its sheriff’s office last year alleging that county employees “showed off” photos of the crash that killed her husband, the basketball legend Kobe Bryant, and their 13-year-old daughter, Gianna. They died on Jan. 29, 2020, along with seven other people as they traveled to a basketball tournament in Thousand Oaks, California, where Gianna was supposed to play.
Bryant, along with other relatives, are seeking damages in excess of tens to millions of dollars from the county.
The county filed the motion Friday because independent examinations are necessary to determine the extent and nature the alleged emotional injuries suffered by Plaintiffs. The defendants claimed that the crash caused the “severe emotion distress”, and not the sharing photos.
“Plaintiffs cannot claim that they are suffering from ongoing depression, anxiety and severe emotional distress and then balk at having to support their claims,” the county said in the motion, adding that the exams are “critical to the county’s defense. “
Bryant’s lawyers claimed that the motion was part the county’s “scorched-earth discovery tactics” to intimidate Plaintiffs into giving up their pursuit of accountability. “
“Apparently, in the County’s estimation, top officials should be shielded from providing any testimony, but the victims should not only withstand the emotional toll of a full-day deposition, but also submit to an eight-hour involuntary psychiatric examination simply because they had the audacity to demand accountability,” her attorneys wrote in response.
Bryant stated in her original complaint that she had expressed concerns to the sheriff about the helicopter crash site’s security and was assured that officers would protect the area.
“Faced with a scene of unimaginable loss, no fewer than eight sheriff’s deputies at the crash site pulled out their personal cell phones and snapped photos of the dead children, parents and coaches,” the suit alleges. The suit claims that the deputies took these photos to their own pleasure. “
Ben Kesslen is a reporter for NBC News.