Kobe Bryant’s widow, Vanessa Bryant, has named four sheriff’s deputies she says shared graphic photos of the helicopter crash that killed her husband, their daughter, Gianna, and seven other people.
Ms Bryant posted documents from her lawsuit in which she identifies deputies Joey Cruz, Rafael Mejia, Michael Russell and Raul Versales.
The suit alleges Mr Cruz shared photos of Kobe Bryant’s body with a bar worker and that the others passed around “gratuitous photos of the dead children, parents, and coaches.”
None of the officers were directly involved in investigating the crash or had any legitimate reason for taking or passing around the graphic photos, the suit says.
There was no official response from authorities, but Los Angeles County Sheriff Alex Villanueva tweeted: “We will refrain from trying this case in the media and will wait for the appropriate venue.”
Bryant, 41, a five-time NBA title winner with the LA Lakers, his 13-year-old daughter and seven others were killed when the helicopter they were travelling in crashed in clouds over Calabasas, west of Los Angeles, in January last year.
In the lawsuit, Ms Bryant alleges that according to a sheriff’s department investigatory report, one deputy took 25 to 100 photos on his personal mobile phone that had no value to the investigation.
At least eight deputies took mobile phone photos, the suit alleges.
One of them, Mr Mejia, who was assigned to the crash site, got hold of photos from fire department personnel, then sent them to a female deputy who was not involved in the investigation “for no reason other than morbid gossip”.
Two days after the crash, Mr Cruz “boasted” to a bar worker in southern California that he had responded to the scene, and showed photos he had been sent by Mr Mejia, including the bodies of a girl and of Kobe Bryant, the suit alleges.
The bar employee told a table of nearby customers “specific characteristics” about Kobe Bryant’s remains.
They became disturbed enough that one filed an official complaint with the sheriff’s department, the suit says.
According to the suit, Mr Cruz also showed the photos to his niece and another customer, and texted images to Mr Russell, who allegedly shared them with a friend.
The lawsuit says the sheriff’s department has not released results of its internal investigation but Vanessa Bryant obtained the final report through the courts in January.
The report “reveals that the sheriff’s department has failed to take basic steps to ensure all copies of the improper photos are tracked down and sequestered”, the suit alleges.