Leaked photos of the Kobe Bryant crash, including images of his corpse, are the subject of a trial that started today in Los Angeles. Bryant’s wife, Vanessa, broke down in tears during opening statements of the civil suit.
The federal jury awarded $31 million in damages to Vanessa Bryant and her co-plaintiff over the photos, according to CNN.
On Wednesday, August 10, 2022, attorneys told a California jury that a sheriff’s deputy shared graphic photos in a bar, showing the helicopter crash that killed the basketball legend, his daughter, Gianna Bryant and seven others January 26, 2020, when they were traveling from Orange County to a basketball tournament.
Luis Li, Bryant’s attorney, told the federal court that it was only two days after the fatal crash that Deputy Joey Cruz was “showing pictures of [Kobe’s] decapitated body, at a Norwalk, California bar, according to Yahoo News. During the trial, a graphic autopsy sketch was leaked that began trending on Twitter.
Here’s what you need to know:
Autopsy Reports Reveal the Brutality of the Crash That Killed 9 People Instantly
The Los Angeles County Medical Examiner-Coroner issued a report saying Bryant died from blunt force trauma and ruled his manner of death as an accident. He was 41 years old when he died in Calabasas, California January 26, 2020.
The full autopsy report describes the brutality of the crash through the injuries it caused, including dismemberment and burns that left several of its victims unrecognizable. However, those killed in the crash were not left to suffer, Bryant’s autopsy report noted.
“These injuries are rapidly if not instantly fatal,” Senior Deputy Medical Examiner Juan Carrillo wrote in Bryant’s report.
Flames engulfed the helicopter wreckage, but burns to the bodies were determined to be caused after they were already dead, the report said. Kobe Bryant had post-mortem burns on 30% of his body.
Bryant’s body was found on the ground outside the helicopter. He was identified by his fingerprints, the report said. However, there were small details that were preserved and captured his personal life and personality. The report said he was wearing “multicolored court shoes.” On his shoulder was a tattoo of a crown and his wife’s name, Vanessa. On his lower right arm, he had tattooed the names of four of his five daughters: Bianka Bella, Natalia Diamante and Gianna Maria-Onore.
His youngest daughter, Capri Kobe, was 7 months old when her dad died, according to ESPN.
A National Transportation Safety Board Investigative Update Says Fog & Low Clouds Obscured Hills When Kobe Bryant’s Helicopter Crashed
Photos in a National Transportation Safety Board investigative update show the low cloud cover obscuring the hillside on the morning of January 26, 2020, at the time Kobe Bryant, his daughter, Gianna Bryant, and seven others died in a fiery helicopter crash. You can read the report in full here.
Pilot Ara Zobayan told air traffic control he would climb to 4,000 feet, above the cloud cover. It was his last transmission. The clouds were at about 1,100 feet, the report said. Instead of reaching altitude, the pilot climbed to about 2,300 feet, turned left and began descending at 4,000 feet per minute.
A report, summarized by the Los Angeles Times, said Zobayan may have thought he was ascending when he was actually descending. The report said he “could have misperceived both pitch and roll angles.” It added, “When a pilot misperceives altitude and acceleration it is known as the ‘somatogravic illusion’ and can cause spatial disorientation.”
The wreckage was located in the foothills of the Santa Monica mountains, in a mountain bike park. The helicopter left an impact crater that was 24 by 15 feet in diameter and 2 feet deep, the NTSB report said.
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