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LA County Will Pay $2.5 Million To Four Victims' Families Over Allegedly Leaked Photos Of The Kobe Bryant Helicopter Crash

Four lawsuits, including one by Vanessa Bryant, were filed over the alleged sharing of crash site photos by sheriff's deputies and fire personnel.

Posted on November 2, 2021, at 8:45 p.m. ET

Marcio Jose Sanchez / AP

The site of a helicopter crash that killed Bryant, his daughter Gianna, and seven others one year ago

Los Angeles County has agreed to pay $2.5 million to the families of four of the victims in the helicopter crash that also killed Kobe Bryant in hopes of settling their lawsuits over photos allegedly leaked by deputies and firefighters.

The Los Angeles County Board of Supervisors approved the $2.5 million settlement without comment on Tuesday. The settlement, which will still need to be approved by a judge, is set to give $1.25 million to Matthew Mauser, whose wife Christina was traveling in the helicopter on Jan. 26, 2020. Another $1.25 million is set to be given to J.J. and Alexis Altobelli, whose mother, father, and sister were killed in the crash.

Damian Dovarganes / AP

Flowers and photos honor members of the Altobelli family outside Angel Stadium in Anaheim, California

The decision to settle the lawsuits would put an end to two of the four lawsuits facing Los Angeles County after sheriff's deputies and firefighters allegedly shared unauthorized images of the crash that killed nine people, including Bryant and his 13-year-old daughter, Gianna, in Calabasas.

The lawsuits came after the Los Angeles Times reported that Los Angeles County sheriff's deputies had allegedly shared gruesome pictures of the deadly crash at a bar.

Sheriff's department officials allegedly ordered the deputies to delete the photos, only launching an internal investigation into the incident after it was reported by the newspaper.

The county is still facing two other lawsuits over the images, including one filed by Vanessa Bryant, who said in a deposition that Los Angeles County Sheriff Alex Villanueva had personally promised no pictures of her husband's or daughter's remains at the crash site would be taken.

In their lawsuits, the Mauser and Altobelli families alleged that deputies and fire personnel had violated their privacy and constitutional rights by taking and sharing images of their loved ones' remains.

So far, according to a letter from the county's counsel, LA County has already paid nearly $1.3 million in legal costs to address the Mauser and Altobelli suits.

The county, however, continues to face contentious lawsuits filed by Vanessa Bryant and Christopher Chester, whose wife and 13-year-old daughter, Payton, were also killed.

Lawyers for the county had tried to require Vanessa Bryant to undergo a psychiatric examination, claiming that she could not be experiencing emotional distress, because the photos of the crash site had not been shared publicly and she had never seen them.

A federal magistrate on Monday ruled that she would not have to go through the psychiatric examination.

According to the letter from the county's counsel, the $2.5 million in the settlement would be taken from the budgets for the LA County Sheriff's Department and LA County Fire Department.


A BuzzFeed News investigation, in partnership with the International Consortium of Investigative Journalists, based on thousands of documents the government didn't want you to see.