The man who sued The Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department alongside Vanessa Bryant over deputies sharing gruesome pictures of the crash which killed his wife and daughter alongisde NBA legend Kobe Bryant and six others has reached a $20 million settlement.
Both Christopher Chester and Bryant were already awarded $15 million each in LA federal court after a jury last month found LA County Sheriff’s Deputies and county Fire firefighters invaded their privacy and brought emotional distress by taking grisly photos of his wife Sarah and 13-year old daughter Payton after the Jan. 26, 2020 crash in Calabasas, Calif.
Mira Hashmall, one of the attorneys who represented LA County said: “We believe the $19,950,000 settlement with the Chester family is fair and reasonable to all concerned.”
“This amount includes the $15 million verdict awarded to Mr. Chester by the federal jury and resolves all outstanding issues relating to the pending state claims, future claims by the Chester children, attorneys’ fees, and costs.
“We sincerely hope this settlement will help Mr. Chester and his children move forward with their lives.”
U.S. District Judge John Walter gave Bryant and Chester until Sept. 19 to provide notice on whether they still planned to move forward with California invasion of privacy claims, which had been separated from the federal civil case.
The case is ongoing for the Bryant family, as attorneys asked the judge for more time to make a decision and were given until Oct. 10.
Bryant and Chester’s attorneys did not respond to requests for comment.
In a pivotal emotional testimony during the federal case, Vanessa Bryant said she felt she was violated and betrayed after finding out from news reports that first responders were sharing gruesome photos of her husband and young daughter.
During the trial, bartender Victor Gutierrez testified Dept. Joey Cruz showed him pictures of burned body parts two days after the fatal helicopter crash.
Luis Li, Vanessa Bryant’s attorney, said Cruz walked around the wreckage and snapped close-up photos of the NBA legend’s dismembered body parts.
An internal affairs probe found that Cruz and other deputies violated several department policies over the way they handled the crash pictures.
Attorneys for LA County said deputies and firefighters who received the photos wiped their phones clean before they were processed in the investigations.