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Vanessa Bryant, the widow of basketball superstar Kobe Bryant, was flanked by famous friends and one of her daughters in court on Monday, as the trial against the Los Angeles County for its invasion of her family’s privacy nears its second week.
Bryant, 40, entered the California courthouse on Monday morning with her 19-year-old daughter, Natalia Diamante Bryant, and musician friends Ciara and Monica, according to photographs obtained by People.
The court heard testimony on Monday from Los Angeles County Fire Department and Sheriffs’ Office executives, according to a report from Law & Crime.
The widow’s invasion of privacy trial against Los Angeles County began on August 10, when her attorney, Luis Li, told the jury the cellphone photos shot at the crash scene by a deputy and a fire captain were “visual gossip” viewed “for a laugh,” and had no official purpose.
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“They were shared by deputies playing video games,” Li said. “They were shared repeatedly with people who had absolutely no reason to receive them.”
An attorney for the county defended the taking of the photos as an essential tool for first-responders seeking to share information when they thought they might still save lives at the chaotic, dangerous and hard-to-reach crash scene in the Calabasas hills west of Los Angeles.
“Site photography is essential,” county lawyer J. Mira Hashmall said.
NBA legend Kobe Bryant, the couple’s daughter, Gianna Bryant, and seven others were killed in a helicopter crash on Jan. 26, 2020.
Just Tuesday, Bryant shared an image of her and Kobe with her 15.5 million Instagram followers in honor of her late husband’s 44th birthday.
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“Happy birthday, baby! I love you and miss you so much!” she wrote.
Bryant testified on Friday that she was only beginning to grieve when she was faced with the fresh horror of learning that sheriff’s deputies and firefighters had shot and shared photos of her family members’ bodies at the site of the helicopter crash that killed them.
“I felt like I wanted to run, run down the block and scream,” she said, her tears turning to sobs and her voice quickening. “It was like the feeling of wanting to run down a pier and jump into the water. The problem is I can’t escape. I can’t escape my body.”
During her three hours on the witness stand, Bryant said she had fought to get through both public and private memorials for her loved ones, and thought she was ready to really begin the grieving process about a month later. She was with friends and her surviving daughters, and holding her 7-month-old baby, when she received a call about a Los Angeles Times story on the crash-site photos.
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“I bolted out of the house and around to the side so my girls wouldn’t see,” she said. “I was blindsided again, devastated, hurt. I trusted them. I trusted them not to do these things.”
Evidence presented at trial showed that a sheriff’s deputy showed a photo of Bryant’s body to a bartender as he drank, spurring an official complaint from another man drinking nearby, and that firefighters shared the photos with each other at an awards banquet. Others shared them with spouses. An attorney for the county said the photos had been taken only because they were essential for assessing the site moments after the crash, and that when LA County Sheriff Alex Villanueva learned they were being shared, he demanded they all be deleted.
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No photos emerged publicly, but Vanessa Bryant said she has constant worry that some still might.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.