LOS ANGELES (CBSLA) – The Los Angeles County Board of Supervisors on Tuesday will consider whether to approve a $2.5-million settlement with two families who have filed lawsuits over the unauthorized sharing of photos of the Kobe Bryant helicopter crash in which their loved ones were killed.
On Jan. 26, 2020, a helicopter carrying Lakers legend Bryant, his daughter Gianna and seven others crashed in heavy fog in Calabasas, killing all nine people aboard. Among those was 56-year-old John Altobelli, a longtime baseball coach at Orange Coast College in Costa Mesa, his 46-year-old wife Keri and their 13-year-old daughter Alyssa. Also aboard was 38-year-old Christina Mauser a wife, mother and basketball coach from Huntington Beach.
The families of Mauser and the Altobellis filed two separate lawsuits after learning several L.A. County Sheriff’s deputies and L.A. County firefighters took and shared crash scene photos for purposes outside law enforcement.
Under the proposed settlement, Christina’s husband Matthew Mauser would receive $1.25 million. Siblings J.J. Altobelli and Alexis Altobelli would share another $1.25 million, per the Los Angeles Times.
A report from the L.A. County Counsel recommended the settlement to “avoid further litigation costs,” according to the Times.
The county has already spent approximately $1.3 million in fees and legal costs in the two cases, L.A. County Counsel said.
“We believe these proposed settlements of $1.25 million are reasonable and fair to all concerned,” attorney Skip Miller, who represents the county, told the Times.
Bryant’s widow, Vanessa Bryant, filed her own federal lawsuit in September of 2020 against L.A. County over the crash scene photos. The lawsuit alleges there has been no accountability, no formal investigation and no disciplinary action against the deputies or firefighters.
In March, she filed an amended lawsuit which publicly named four of the involved deputies.
Bryant won a legal victory this week when L.A. County Sheriff Alex Villanueva and L.A. County Fire Chief Daryl Osby were ordered to be deposed in the case. On Monday, Bryant won a second victory when the federal judge denied a request that she undergo a psychiatric evaluation as part of her lawsuit.
The trial is scheduled to begin in February.
Also in September of 2020, California Gov. Gavin Newsom signed a bill into law that makes it a misdemeanor for first responders to take and share accident and crime scene photos for any purpose other than an official law enforcement purpose or a genuine public interest.
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