Vanessa Bryant, the widow of NBA legend Kobe Bryant, called on the Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department to identify deputies who shared photos of the crash that killed her husband and their 13-year-old daughter.
Bryant, who is suing the department, posted a statement to her Instagram Stories on Saturday saying the sheriff’s department wants to redact deputies’ names. She said that that was a double standard and that the deputies must be held accountable “just like everyone else “
“They want their names to be exempt from the public,” she wrote. “Anyone else facing these allegations would be unprotected, named and released to the public.”
Bryant referred to a sexual assault allegation against Kobe Bryant, writing, “Kobe’s name was released when he was accused in 2003. Why should sheriffs get away with hiding? #doublestandard”
A lawsuit alleged last year that county employees “showed off” photos of the remains of Kobe Bryant and Gianna Bryant after the helicopter crash that killed them and seven other people. They were on their way to Gianna’s basketball tournament in Thousand Oaks, California, on the morning of Jan. 29, 2020, when the helicopter went down.
Los Angeles County Sheriff Alex Villanueva said last year that he was horrified upon learning that deputies had shared photos of the crash and ordered them to be deleted.
“We identified the deputies involved,” Villanueva said. “They came to the station on their own and had admitted they had taken them and they had deleted them. And we’re content that those involved did that.”
The sheriff’s office did not immediately respond to a request for comment Sunday.
Vanessa Bryant posted Instagram Stories defending her late husband’s legacy from those who called him a “rapist” on social media after his death, which appears to be the double standard she referred to in her statement.
She posted a tweet from “Westworld” actress Evan Rachel Wood more than a year ago, which she said had just been brought to her attention. Wood said the crash was “tragic” and called Kobe Bryant a sports hero before saying he was “also a rapist.”
Vanessa Bryant called the tweet “false,” “defamatory” and “vile.” “Behavior like this is part of the reason why innocent black men go to jail for crimes they didn’t commit,” she wrote. “An accusation doesn’t make someone guilty. YOU DON’T KNOW THE FACTS OF THE CASE.”
Wood’s Twitter account has been deactivated. An attorney did not immediately respond to a request for comment.
Kobe Bryant was accused in 2003 of sexually assaulting a 19-year-old hotel employee in Colorado, where he was staying for surgery. He admitted to having had sex with the woman but insisted that it had been consensual.
He was charged with rape, but the case was dropped after the accuser declined to testify in court. His accuser later sued him, and they settled out of court.
Wood, an outspoken advocate against sexual violence, alleged recently that she had been “horrifically” abused by her ex-partner, the musician Marilyn Manson.
Wood also testified before a House Judiciary subcommittee in 2018 about her experiences with domestic and sexual violence. Although she did not publicly name her abusers, she recounted having being raped two times: first by an abusive partner and then by a man in the storage closet of a bar.
Doha Madani is a breaking news reporter for NBC News.