RE: Kobe Photos—no such thing as rest in peace

By T.J. Simers

I don’t get the whole Kobe Bryant trial over photos taken of his corpse.

So, it was wrong, foolish, disrespectful and a million other horrible words attached to the poor judgment shown by the Los Angeles County sheriffs and firemen, but what do the relatives want?

Vanessa Bryant filed a federal civil lawsuit and was joined by Christopher Chester, who lost his wife and daughter in the helicopter crash that killed Bryant and his daughter.

The agony is unimaginable, but to date there is no indication any of the photos taken afterward surfaced on the Internet. Or, in any public way. That justifies nothing, but what’s the ultimate pursuit here?

The Times reported Wednesday morning that a settlement has been reached in two other lawsuits, but Bryant and Chester refused to settle.

Is it all about money? Hard to imagine that Bryant would need more, but maybe it’s true you can never have enough. I know that’s how John Travolta says you hurt people in a lawsuit in the movie, “A Civil Action”—you take their money, but is this about bankrupting sheriffs and firemen? Or, L.A. County?

I would like to think Bryant’s cause is more noble and she’s trying to send a message, but the message is already loud and clear: What a stupid, insensitive and lousy thing to do.

Short of stripping everyone naked ala Game of Thrones and walking the disrespectful slobs down main street with everyone chanting, “Shame,” I don’t get it.

Is it a pursuit of justice beyond what everyone already knows: It shouldn’t have happened?

Maybe if I suffered the same dramatic shock as those who suffered through the helicopter crash, I would feel differently. But I think it’s universally understood now that privacy and dignity are near absolutes in a case like this, and those who abused those basics were saved from themselves. Nothing surfaced.

Maybe they weren’t punished enough by Bryant’s and Chester’s standards, and if there is a possibility a trial will get them suspended or fired, I won’t quibble. I suspect the County administrators will be too busy assuming a defensive posture there won’t be any finger pointing at specific cops or firemen.

Even though the police are involved I don’t think the solution is public beatings.

I know about the pursuit of money. This lawsuit is for unspecified millions, and I just received millions from a judge for winning a lawsuit against the Times. But for privacy and dignity why go this route in such a public setting?

Maybe the Sheriff and fire chief didn’t apologize enough to the families. Maybe there was offense taken because many of those who had the horrible images chose to delete them from their phones. But isn’t that the best course of action unless someone deemed them more important as evidence in a civil trial.

I sat through a civil trial, well, really three of them. It’s painful even when you think you are right. If the fight here is to preserve the sacred image of those who perished, understood, but seemingly unnecessary. And painful.

Bryant’s attorneys said she is fearful she or her children will one day come across horrific images of their loved ones on the Internet. I would hold open the courtroom doors to facilitate the prosecution of the idiots who did such a thing. But it hasn’t happened.

A verdict in favor of Bryant and Chester would do nothing two, five or ten years from now to safeguard the families against idiots. I understand the gut-wrenching concern Bryant and Chester might feel about what might make their nightmares worse, but it appears the Sherriff’s office and fire department have done everything they can to fix an embarrassing break in proper decorum.

If an ugly picture had surfaced, then no mercy and I stand corrected.

But if this is all about some kind of revenge against those who didn’t function as appropriately as everyone would have liked, I don’t get it. We already get there were considerable mistakes made.

I asked my own lawyer about it Wednesday, and he said, “So you would have just had her forget it?”

I would have, while joining others in accepting the settlement offered, and preserving the privacy and dignity of those who died. Now I hope my opinion is never put to a practical test, and honestly, maybe these aggrieved people are entitled to salve their emotional wounds in any way they choose.

But I will still be curious to watch and learn what the goal is here.


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