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L.A. County approves $2.5 million settlement for victims' families in Kobe Bryant crash

The suit mirrors one brought by Vanessa Bryant, alleging emotional distress caused by county employees leaking photos of the helicopter crash site.

The Los Angeles County Board of Supervisors approved a $2.5 million settlement Tuesday in a lawsuit over leaked photos brought by families who lost relatives in the January 2020 helicopter crash that killed Kobe and Gianna Bryant.

The Mauser and Altobelli families filed the lawsuit against the county, alleging employees "showed off" photos of the deadly crash. Christina Mauser, 38, an assistant coach for Team Mamba, died in the crash, as did three members of the Altobelli family—Alyssa, 14, John, 56, and Keri, 46.

Their suit mirrors one that Vanessa Bryant had first filed against the county in 2020.

The Mauser, Altobelli and Bryant families say the leaked photos caused severe emotional distress. Bryant’s trial will go to court in 2022, while the other two families agreed to settle for $1.25 million each. The settlement has yet to be approved by the court.

The settlement comes as Bryant scored a procedural win for her trial. Los Angeles County had demanded in an October court filing that Bryant undergo an independent psychiatric evaluation to prove that the leaked photos of the crash caused emotional distress, claiming the distress was caused by the crash itself — not the sharing of photos.

On Monday, a judge ruled against the motion, calling it untimely ahead of the early 2022 trial.

The Jan. 26, 2020, helicopter crash took the lives of nine people, triggering an outpouring of international grief when Kobe Bryant and his 13-year-old daughter Gianna were identified as some of the victims.

Vanessa Bryant said in the her complaint that she expressed concern to the sheriff that the helicopter crash site was unprotected against paparazzi and that she was reassured that law enforcement officers would secure the scene.

"Faced with a scene of unimaginable loss, no fewer than eight sheriff's deputies at the crash site pulled out their personal cell phones and snapped photos of the dead children, parents and coaches," the suit alleges. "The deputies took these photos for their own personal gratification."