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Vanessa Bryant settles helicopter crash photos lawsuits for $28.9 million


Vanessa Bryant holds the 2023 Kobe & Gigi Bryant WNBA Advocacy Award given to NBA Legend Pau Gasol during the half time show of the NBA All-Star game between Team Giannis and Team LeBron at the Vivint arena in Salt Lake City, Utah, February 19, 2023. (Photo by Patrick T. Fallon / AFP) (Photo by PATRICK T. FALLON/AFP via Getty Images)

AFP via Getty Images

The legal drama over the improper sharing of photos by Los Angeles County sheriffs and firefighters from the fatal helicopter crash that took the life of Kobe Bryant and eight others has ended, with the county shelling out nearly $30 million to Bryant’s widow.

Vanessa Bryant has settled the remaining claims against Los Angeles County for a total of $28.9 million — which includes a previous jury verdict awarding her $15 million — and it ends all pending and future litigation, NBC News confirmed in a statement from Mira Hashmall, lead trial counsel for Los Angeles County in the case. The settlement is subject to court approval, but it is rare that it is not granted in the case of a settlement.

“We hope Ms. Bryant and her children continue to heal from their loss,” Hashmall said in a statement.

“Today marks the successful culmination of Mrs. Bryant’s courageous battle to hold accountable those who engaged in this grotesque conduct,” Bryant’s attorney, Luis Li, said in a statement to the USA Today. “She fought for her husband, her daughter, and all those in the community whose deceased family were treated with similar disrespect. We hope her victory at trial and this settlement will put an end to this practice.”

Bryant had said after the first verdict she would donate the money to the Mamba & Mambacita Sports Foundation, although it’s unclear if she will do this with this second part of the settlement.

LA County sheriff and fire departments employees took and shared photos on their phones from the tragic and gruesome crash site on Jan. 26, 2000. The images were shared primarily among fellow county employees, however, some were seen by spouses of workers at the site, one person showed the photos to people he spoke with at an awards banquet, and in another case the photos were shared with a bartender at a bar where a deputy was drinking.

Bryant testified during the previous trial that the news of the photos circulating added to her grief less than a month after the loss of her husband and daughter in that crash. She said she lived in fear of the photos popping up on social media and her daughters seeing them.