Ciara and Monica Show Up to Support Vanessa Bryant at Trial Over Crash Site Photos

Vanessa Bryant was joined by two celebrity supporters — singers Ciara and Monica — in Los Angeles federal court Monday as her trial over graphic photos of the helicopter crash that killed her NBA star husband and 13-year-old daughter stretched into its ninth day.

via: People

Kobe Bryant’s widow, 40, was accompanied by friends Ciara and Monica, as well as 19-year-old daughter Natalia Diamante, at her trial over the graphic leaked images of Kobe, their daughter Gianna and the seven other victims of the fatal January 2020 helicopter crash.

The group sat behind her during testimony from an internal officer with the Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department and even accompanied her outside when she needed to take a moment.

Shaquille O’Neal previously showed his support for Vanessa during an interview with Entertainment Tonight, praising her for “holding people responsible” and noting that he “couldn’t imagine what she’s going through.”

“I feel for her,” he said. “We’ve never talked a lot [but] we’ve always had respect for each other. Every time I see her, it’s a hug, it’s a laugh.”

In her ongoing trial against L.A. County, Vanessa took the stand on Friday to give an emotional three-hour testimony about what she experienced following the deaths of her husband and daughter.

She explained that she felt helpless after members of the LASD and other emergency personnel allegedly shared graphic images, causing her to “live in fear every day of being on social media and having these photos pop up.”

“I just remember not wanting to react because the girls were in the room,” Vanessa said, referencing the three other children she shares with Kobe — Capri, 3, Bianka, 5, and Natalia.

She added, “I bolted out of the house and I broke down and cried and I just wanted to run down the block and scream. I can’t escape my body. I can’t escape what I feel.”

Vanessa is suing L.A. County for emotional distress and mental anguish concerning the purported images. At the time of the crash, Kobe and Gianna were traveling to a youth basketball game with seven others.

Vanessa and Chris Chester, who lost his wife Sarah and their 13-year-old daughter Payton in the accident, claim photographs of the victims’ bodies were publicly shared on at least 28 devices owned by the Los Angeles Sheriff’s Department and by more than a dozen first responders.

During his testimony, Chris recalled finding out about the crash while driving to Lost Hills sheriff’s station after texts to Payton and Sarah went unanswered.

“Lots of things were going through my head, but I thought I was going to a hospital,” he explained, believing Payton and Sarah would be injured but still alive. But the station was alarmingly quiet, he said, and “I had started to get an eery feeling.” He was taken to an area with the other families, including Vanessa, where they were eventually told that there were no survivors.

“It was heavy,” he said. “My life will never be the same.”

Chris said he was told that all of the photos taken by the coroner and National Transportation Safety Board — who investigate aviation crashes — would be secured. However, he said he was in disbelief after hearing the sheriff’s department members had taken and publicly shared photos from the crash scene.

Ever since, Chris said, he has suffered high anxiety at the thought of the images leaking to the public. He has also suffered from depression since the crash, he said.

During the trial, former Los Angeles fire captain Brian Jordan said the trauma of seeing the remains of the accident pushed him to retire. Jordan is accused of taking graphic, closely-cropped photos of body parts on the scene but testified that he was only doing as he was instructed.

“It was horrifying and what put me off the job,” he said.

L.A. County had tried to dismiss Vanessa’s lawsuit in December 2021, but a judge refused their request. In her declaration filed in response to a motion, Vanessa said she’s felt “tremendous pain and distress.”

The January 2020 helicopter crash also claimed the lives of 14-year-old Alyssa Altobelli, Keri Altobelli, 46, John Altobelli, 56, Christina Mauser, 38, and pilot Ara Zobayan, 50.

Today would have been Kobe Bryant’s 44th Birthday, happy heavenly birthday Kobe.

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