Vanessa Bryant reaches $28.85M settlement over helicopter crash photos

Evidence at trial showed that a Los Angeles County sheriff’s deputy showed a photo of Kobe Bryant’s body to a bartender, which prompted an official complaint by another bar patron.

Evidence also showed that firefighters passed around photos with one another at an awards banquet and that others shared them with their spouses.

Kobe Bryant is beloved in Los Angeles. He played his entire 20-year career with the Lakers, and retired in 2016.

Chris Chester, whose wife, Sarah, and daughter, Payton, 13, were killed in the crash, also sued over the photos and the handling of them. The jury in August also awarded him $15 million, and the county agreed last year to pay an additional $4.95 million to settle any other claims.

The crash also killed John Altobelli, 56; his wife, Keri Altobelli, 46; their daughter Alyssa Altobelli, 14; and Christina Mauser, 38.

The Altobelli and Mauser families settled with the county for $1.25 million each.

The National Transportation Safety Board said in February 2021 that the helicopter pilot’s poor decisions and “spatial disorientation” led to the crash. The pilot, who also died, continued to fly under visual flight rules into instrument meteorological conditions.

The pilot, Ara Zobayan, 50, said he was climbing to get above clouds, according to the NTSB. Instead, the aircraft descended rapidly in a left turn to the ground and crashed.

The pilot should have avoided the weather, and diverted, returned to base or landed it, NTSB member Michael Graham said at the time.