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L.A. county sheriff, fire chief to testify in Kobe Bryant case over photos

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L.A. county sheriff, fire chief to testify in Kobe Bryant case over photos
Vanessa Bryant is overcome with emotion and grief as she addresses family members, friends and fans attending the Celebration of Life for Kobe and Gianna Bryant in February 2020. File Photo by Jim Ruymen/UPI | License Photo

Oct. 27 (UPI) -- Vanessa Bryant, wife of the late NBA legend Kobe Bryant, won a ruling against Los Angeles County officials over pictures of the remains of her husband and daughter.

The two were killed in a helicopter crash in January 2020. Photos of their bodies were taken by L.A. County Sheriff Alex Villanueva and Country Fire Chief Daryl Osby, top public safety officers in the most populated U.S. county.

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Villanueva and Osby were ordered to answer questions about the photos, which they're accused of inappropriately sharing. Their trial will begin in February and their depositions were limited to four hours each.

U.S. Magistrate Judge Charles Eick ruled Tuesday that the officials had knowledge relevant to the case that wasn't obtainable through other sources.

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Skip Miller, an attorney defending the county, said, "Their testimony will not change the fact that there is no evidence any photos taken by county first responders have ever been publicly disseminated."

But Bryant's attorney Luis Li said in a document that "Villanueva personally promised Mrs. Bryant that he would protect the remains of her husband and daughter from desecration by unauthorized photographers," according to USA Today.

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He went on to say that police officers keep a "death book" of such photos, adding that Osby knew two members of his department had improper photos of the victims' remains.

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According to Li, Osby waited until March to conduct an investigation. By then, the photos were "turned into cocktail-house entertainment at a public awards show," Li said, according to USA Today.

Vanessa Bryant will be subjected to a psychiatric exam to determine whether her claims of emotional distress over the shared photos have grounding.

Eick also granted Bryant access to retired fire captain Brian Jordan's phone records. He was rebuked last year after his photographs of the crash scene were deemed "visual gossip."

RELATED LA County: Vanessa Bryant suit over Kobe crash photos has no legal basis

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