Documentary Firm Settles Access Dispute Over Bryant Crash Video


Photo: Getty Images

LOS ANGELES (CNS) - A documentary production company and attorneys for Los Angeles County have settled the firm's legal efforts to obtain video through the California Public Records Act regarding the 2020 helicopter crash that killed Kobe Bryant, his 13-year-old daughter, Gianna, and seven others, it was announced Wednesday.

Real World Media LLC -- which conducts investigative news reporting on transportation safety -- alleged in a Los Angeles Superior Court petition filed Oct. 7 against the county and then-Sheriff Alex Villanueva that the defendants were wrongfully denying access to the information requested.

In their court papers filed Wednesday with Judge Mitchell Beckloff stating that the case was resolved, attorneys did not divulge the terms. But in their petition, Real World Media sought video, audio and photographic records related to the accident and the resulting investigations, but not "post- accident images of the deceased."

The helicopter with Bryant, his daughter and the others crashed into a hillside in Calabasas on Jan. 26, 2020.

A Real World Media representative submitted a request for records under the CPRA on Jan. 26, 2021, to the sheriff's department, but the LASD denied the request in May of that year, stating that the National Transportation Safety Board and Federal Aviation Administration had jurisdiction over the accident, the petition stated.

However, Real World was seeking LASD's own records, not those of the NTSB or FAA, the petition states.

A subsequent request asked for a "complete, unedited, original- resolution, original-quality, electronic copy, transferred ... over the internet, of any and all video, audio and photographic records created, utilized, capturing or otherwise obtained in association with any portion of the emergency response to, and investigation of, the subject accident."

Villanueva later sent Real World Media a letter denying their request, stating the department was "unable to provide records responsive to your request" based on a Government Code section allowing agencies to withhold a record when the public interest served by withholding the records outweighs the public interest in disclosure.

However, under the same code section, the LASD bears the burden of demonstrating there is a public interest by not disclosing the record that clearly outweighs the public interest served by disclosure of the records, according to the petition.

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