A documentary production company that specializes in videos of arrests and transportation crashes is taking legal action 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.
Real World Media LLC — which posts videos to YouTube with titles such as “Hospital interview of man who just escaped murderer” and “27 year old caught with 26 pounds of cocaine” and “Drunk Pilot Crashes Corporate Jet in Nevada” — alleges in a Los Angeles Superior Court petition filed Friday that it has wrongfully been denied access to the information requested.
More from Deadline
“(Real World Media) is seeking video, audio and photographic records related to the accident and the resulting investigations; (the company) is not seeking post-accident images of the deceased,” the petition states.
The latter-type photos were the focus of a court case that concluded in August in which a Los Angeles federal jury ordered Los Angeles County to pay a combined total of $31 million to Bryant’s widow Vanessa and an Orange County man who lost his daughter and wife in the crash for the mental anguish caused by photos sheriff’s deputies and firefighters took and shared of the crash victims’ bodies.
An LASD representative did not reply to a request for comment on the production company’s filing but, given the recently-settled case, the department is likely to be extremely careful in how it proceeds.
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 the National Transportation Safety Board and Federal Aviation Administration had jurisdiction over the accident, the petition states.
However, Real World was seeking LASD’s own records, not those of the NTSB or FAA, the petition states.
A second request submitted Aug. 23 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.”
On Sept. 21, Villanueva 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.
“The denial letter fails to identify any public interest in nondisclosure…,” according to the petition, which further states the delays in turning over the information are respondents’ delay and failure to produce any records responsive to the CPRA request are “unlawful.”
City News Service contributed to this story.
Best of Deadline
Sign up for Deadline’s Newsletter. For the latest news, follow us on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram.
Click here to read the full article.