Kobe Bryant Pilot's Family Wants Case Moved Out of L.A. ... It's Unfair

Exclusive

The family of Ara Zobayan is begging a judge to move Vanessa Bryant's wrongful death case out of L.A. because Kobe Bryant is so popular there, it would be impossible to get a fair trial.

Ara's family spelled it out in new court docs, obtained by TMZ Sports ... saying the trial would begin with "two strikes" already against him "due to the extreme level of popularity of plaintiff with the jury pool."

As we previously reported, Vanessa sued Zobayan along with Island Express Helicopters saying they should be held financially responsible for the crash that killed Kobe, Gianna and 6 other passengers.

Now, a family member of the pilot is asking for a change of venue to Orange County, where they think they have a better chance of getting impartial jurors.

Of course, Kobe Bryant played his entire 20-year NBA career with the Los Angeles Lakers -- and became an icon in the city.

"The notoriety and popularity of the late Kobe Bryant in Los Angeles County is detailed herein and reached a level that left no person in the county unaware of his role in branding Los Angeles as his city," Zobayan's family says in new court docs.

"No other single individual in recent memory, sports figure or otherwise, has been considered by the people to be such a personification of their city of Los Angeles. "

"But with that unprecedented level of acclaim comes a lack of impartiality and objectivity by potential jurors about the merits under the law of the claims asserted in this lawsuit by the Bryant family."

The Zobayan family also notes Kobe and all of the passengers lived in Orange County -- another reason the case should be moved.

Kobe, Gianna and 6 other passengers -- along with Ara Zobayan -- died when their helicopter crashed in Calabasas on January 26.

Officials believe Zobayan -- a seasoned pilot -- got disoriented when he flew into heavy fog ... and accidentally flew down into the mountains when he thought he was elevating above the fog layer.

MLB's Carl Crawford Sued For Over $1 Million ... Over Drowning At Texas Mansion

Exclusive Details

1:09 PM PT -- Crawford's attorney Rusty Hardin ... "It's not unexpected that people are going to seek compensation when a tragic accident occurs."

"Carl was not at the pool when it happened. He was upstairs in his house. A couple of other adults were out at the patio watching the children. Little boy went down the slide and was in distress -- lady jumped in to help and she tragically drowned as well."

"Carl has made it clear to everyone how horrible he feels about this tragic accident. He deeply regrets that someone is trying to seek money for what is a tragic accident."

The mother of 1 of the drowning victims at Carl Crawford's Texas mansion last month says the former MLB star is responsible for her son's death ... and now, she's suing for over $1 million.

It's all spelled out in new court docs obtained by TMZ Sports ... in which Liban Hersi claims 38-year-old Crawford didn't do enough to prevent tragedy from striking on May 16.

In the docs, Hersi says her 5-year-old son was visiting Crawford with a family friend for a party at the former L.A. Dodgers outfielder's mansion in Harris County, Texas.

Hersi claims Crawford has a massive pool on the property ... but says it has no fencing around it -- and adds Crawford didn't take steps to protect her child from getting into the pool.

Hersi says her son fell in ... and when another partygoer jumped in after him -- they both tragically died.

Hersi claims Crawford could have done MUCH more to prevent the double drowning ... saying he had no alarm system set up for the pool and claimed the swimming hole's design was "unreasonably dangerous."

Hersi is now suing for wrongful death -- asking for over $1 million in damages.

Crawford spoke about the incident days after ... writing in a statement on social media, "My Hearts Heavy. The tragic events that occurred at my home will be with me forever. I'm at a loss for words I've struggled all week to manage my emotions and I keep thinking of the families of those who've passed and their grief, I know they have it the hardest."

He continued, "They are the first and last thing I think of these days. Please keep them in your prayers, I know they will always be in mine."

We've reached out to Crawford's reps for comment on the new lawsuit ... but, so far, no word back yet.

Originally published -- 7:44 AM PT

Eric Garner Widow Breaks Down After Mock Murder Trial

Exclusive
A CRY FOR JUSTICE
REELZ

Eric Garner's widow dissolved into tears after testifying in the mock murder trial of the cops who killed her husband ... and the powerful moment is part of a new TV special.

As you know, no one was put on trial for the death of Eric Garner, so REELZ network got a courtroom, a judge, lawyers and witnesses. And, on Saturday, viewers can see what a trial might have looked like.

THE CROSS-EXAMINATION
Reelz

It's especially relevant now, given what could be a number of criminal trials over the next few months. Four cops will stand trial for the death of George Floyd, 2 cops will stand trial for the death of Rayshard Brooks, and there may be a belated trial in the horrific death of Breonna Taylor.

Garner's widow, Esaw Garner Snipes, who testified in the trial, sobs as she recounts how her husband died after being put in a police chokehold, and the pain and sorrow is worsened by the fact their daughter died right before the mock trial.

2014
"I CAN'T BREATHE"
New York Daily News via Getty Images

There are shocking similarities between the Garner case and the George Floyd case ... and the latter will go to trial, so the dry run is, at the very least, interesting.  By the way, there is no verdict ... it's up to the viewers to decide.

EXCESSIVE FORCE
Facebook/ Darnella Frazier

"American Trial: The Eric Garner Story" will air on REELZ Saturday at 8 PM ET.

Rayshard Brooks Widow Gifted Car ... Life Insurance, College Tuition for Kids

Some of the good people of Atlanta are pitching in to help Rayshard Brooks' wife and kids ... with some very generous and useful gifts.

Rayshard's widow, Tomika Miller, was surprised with a new car Friday, plus life insurance for their 3 children and full rides for them to attend Clark Atlanta University.

YOU'RE NOT ALONE
TMZ.com

Tomika's new ride is a Ford Escape, and it's already paid for ... she got the keys at her lawyer L. Chris Stewart's law firm.

A couple of Atlanta restaurant owners are picking up the tab on the car, life insurance and college tuition ... Slutty Vegan owner Pinky Cole, and Big Dave's Cheesesteaks owner Derrick Hayes.

NEW SURVEILLANCE FOOTAGE

As we reported ... Rayshard was shot in the back and killed by Atlanta police officer Garrett Rolfe last weekend in a Wendy's parking lot.

The Brooks family had an emotional memorial service this week, and Rolfe is now in custody and facing multiple charges including felony murder.

Rayshard left behind his wife and their kids ... 8-year-old Blessing, 2-year-old Memory and 1-year-old Dream. He also had a stepson, 13-year-old Mekai.

Eric Garner Mock Trial Prosecutor Talks George Floyd Case, Proving Intent

Exclusive
WHAT CAN HAPPEN?
TMZ.com

If George Floyd's case goes to court -- prosecutors must do their best to prove Derek Chauvin's intent was to harm -- and they've got a damning piece of video on their side ... so says the man who served as a prosecutor in Eric Garner's mock trial.

"American Trial: The Eric Garner Story" gives viewers a glimpse into what the outcome of Garner's case could have been if it went to court. Attorney Thomas Kenniff is part of the prosecution team in the mock trial and tells us if George Floyd's case goes to trial, the video of Derek Chauvin will be the pivotal piece to landing a guilty verdict.

Kenniff makes it clear ... prosecutors will have to prove Chauvin's intent and jurors will have their undivided attention on the video.

EXCESSIVE FORCE
Facebook/ Darnella Frazier

As we reported, Chauvin had his knee on Floyd's neck for almost 9 minutes while he stated he couldn't breathe, bled from his face and begged for his dead mother.

Kenniff says the video makes it hard to argue that there was any intention outside of harming Floyd ... and prosecutors should lean on that the hardest.

"American Trial: The Eric Garner Story" will make its TV premiere Saturday night at 8 PM ET on Reelz Channel.

Rapper Tray Savage Dead at 26

9:47 AM PT -- Tray's family tells TMZ -- The entire Chief Glo Gang Family are extremely saddened about the loss of Kentray “Tray Savage” Young who was taken too soon today. His first love was always devoted to his fianceé, kids, family, and music. Regrettably, we can’t take back the actions done by others, but we stand firmly behind the fact that Kentray “Tray Savage” Young should be here today alive and continuing his amazing contributions to society. His friends, family and entertainment family will continue to honor his legacy.

Rapper Tray Savage, a member of Chief Keef's record label, is dead ... TMZ has learned.

Tray was shot and killed Friday on the South Side of Chicago ... according to sources. We're told the rapper was driving in the Chatham neighborhood around 11 AM when someone opened fire, striking Tray in the shoulder and neck.

Police say Tray's car hit 3 other vehicles after he was hit by the gunfire. He was rushed to the University of Chicago Medical Canter, where he was later pronounced dead.

Witnesses say they noticed a white SUV in the neighborhood at the time of the fatal shooting ... and detectives are investigating, though no suspects are in custody yet.

Born in Chicago, Tray was a member of the rap label Glory Boyz Entertainment, also known as GBE, which is owned by Fredo Santana and Chief Keef.

Savage is most famous for his 2013 collab with Chief Keef, "Chiefin Keef." He also has a ton of other music videos on YouTube, including "Faces," "Know Who I Am," and "Got The Mac."

Tray was only 26.

RIP

Originally Published -- 6/19 1:27 PM PT

Breonna Taylor Officer to Be Fired 1 of 3 Involved in Killing

Breaking News

Brett Hankison, one of the 3 Louisville cops who fired their weapons during the deadly March 13 raid at Breonna Taylor's home ... is about to be tossed off the force.

Louisville Mayor Greg Fischer just announced Hankison will no longer be employed by the Louisville Metro Police Department.

A letter from police Chief Robert Schroeder says Hankison had "violated obedience to rules and regulations," and use of deadly force while serving the no-knock warrant at Breonna's home.

The letter also says, Hankison "displayed an extreme indifference to the value of human life when [he] wantonly and blindly fired 10 rounds into the apartment of Breonna Taylor." The chief also calls out Hankison for firing on someone he did not know posed a threat, and also for firing through a patio door without knowing who or what was on the other side of it.

As we've reported ... the 3 officers -- which includes Sgt. Jonathan Mattingly and Myles Cosgrove -- had been placed on administrative reassignment but were still part of the force, until Hankison's Friday firing.

On Thursday, KY Attorney General Daniel Cameron addressed the investigation into Taylor's death, saying his team was working nonstop ... but had nothing to report yet in terms of possible charges for the officers.

Instead, he pled for patience and peace and vowed to follow the truth and be "thorough and fair" to everyone involved.

Lewis Hamilton Beloved Dog Coco Dies 'Tried to Revive But No Use'

Breaking News

Sad news ... Lewis Hamilton's 6-year-old bulldog, Coco, has passed away after suffering an apparent heart attack.

The Formula One racing superstar broke the horrible news Friday morning ... saying, "Last night at around 9pm, my beautiful little girl Coco died at home with the family by her side."

"Her little heart gave in, we think it was a heart attack. I tried to revive her but it was no use."

Hamilton LOVED Coco -- and even started an IG page for the pooch and his other bulldog Roscoe.

What's especially tough ... Lewis said Coco had just had the "best day" -- "happier than I’d seen her in a long time."

"She was such a special dog, born with so many problems and I feel so lucky to have adopted her."

"Her breeder said she was going to have to put her down as she wouldn’t be able to afford all the things she would need to survive, she went through a lot to become the bouncy, lazy loving dog she was."

Hamilton says on Coco's final day, "we shared a special moment playing together which I will never forget."

"I will miss her snoring and how happy she was always to see me. She was only 6, healthy and happy. Naturally, my heart is broken but i hope she’s in a better place with my Aunty Diane. Wanted to share with you and thank those of you who loved and cared for her."

RIP, Coco.

Ian Holm 'Lord of the Rings' & 'Chariots of Fire' Star Dead at 88

Sir Ian Holm -- perhaps best known for playing Bilbo in 'The Lord of the Rings' films -- died Friday morning after a long battle with Parkinson's disease ... according to his agent.

The Oscar-nominated actor died peacefully in the hospital with his family by his side, the agent added.

Holm was born in England in 1931, and got into theater acting at a young age, studying at the Royal Academy of Dramatic Arts and graduating in 1950 to the Royal Shakespeare Company ... where he became a star of the stage.

Ian won the Tony Award in 1967 for Best Featured Actor for his performance as Lenny in "The Homecoming."

At the same time, his roles were increasing in film and TV, as well ... including appearances in "The Wars of Roses," "Oh! What a Lovely War" and "Mary, Queen of Scots."

His first major movie role came in 1979 when he was cast as the android, Ash, in "Alien." Then, in 1981, he earned an Academy Award nomination for Best Supporting Actor for playing the coach in "Chariots of Fire."

Holm's other notable credits over the years included "Brazil," "Hamlet," "The Fifth Element," "Ratatouille" and of course ... playing Bilbo Baggins in 'The Lord of the Rings' and 'The Hobbit' films.

Ian also took home the 1998 Laurence Olivier Award for Best Actor for the starring role in "King Lear."

Holm was named a Commander of the British Empire (CBE) in 1989, and in 1998 he was knighted for his services to drama.

He is survived by his wife, artist Sophie de Stempel, whom he married in 2003, and 5 children.

Ian was 88.

RIP

Josh Gordon Brother's Death Triggered Relapse ... Says Lawyer

Breaking News

Josh Gordon's lawyer says the NFL receiver's most recent drug relapse was sparked by his brother's tragic death ... but has gotten the help he needs and is back on the right path.

The troubled 29-year-old was indefinitely suspended from the NFL back in December 2019 after failing another drug test ... adding to the long list of drug penalties since 2013.

But, Gordon is ready to prove he's back to 100% ... reportedly filing for reinstatement on Thursday.

While details surrounding Gordon's suspension weren't made available at the time, his lawyer, Adam Kenner, has revealed the devastating event that triggered the slip-up.

"Josh had a lapse because of his brother's death," Kenner said via Tom Pelissero. "That set him back. But since that time, he has realized how important it is for him to take the right steps, do what's proper, and understand how to manage these issues."

"He's installed the right team around him to make sure he's on the right path. He understands he's been given every chance. He looks forward to making the most of this."

Details on Gordon's brother's death weren't made public ... but Josh addressed his passing in a since-deleted Instagram post shortly after his death in November, saying, "Can’t put it all into words just yet, but today was one of those harder days to face."

"I love you big bro. I’m gonna miss you. This win was for you, thank you for being the best older brother any kid could have."

Meanwhile, Josh had been training like a maniac recently and posting the photos to IG.

One thing's for sure ... he still looks like he's in stellar shape.

Waiting for your permission to load the Instagram Media.

Rayshard Brooks Shooting Rolfe Turns Himself In ... Booked for Felony Murder

3:25 PM PT -- Brosnan just spoke publicly for the first time since being charged. His attorney claims the allegations by the D.A. are exaggerated and misleading, and says Brosnan was actually unaware Brooks was shot initially and was trying to figure out what happened.

Once he did, the lawyer says Brosnan went to get a first aid kit to help Brooks, and by that point, other officers had arrived. Brosnan added that Brooks was friendly and respectful, and he just wanted to try to help him out ... before the incident turned violent.

12:32 PM PT -- Rolfe has now also been booked and charged with felony murder. He also faces charges of aggravated assault, aggravated assault with a deadly weapon, criminal damage to property in the first degree and violation of oath by public officer charges.

10:18 AM PT -- Brosnan has already been released from jail ... he was just spotted leaving the facility with his attorney.

One of the cops involved in Rayshard Brooks' shooting has turned himself in and he's been charged with aggravated assault ... TMZ has learned.

In addition to aggravated assault, Devin Brosnan faces 3 acts of violation of oath by a public officer ... according to the Fulton County Sheriff's Office in Atlanta.

Garrett Rolfe the cop who shot Rayshard -- and is charged with felony murder -- has not turned himself yet. The D.A. gave him until Thursday evening to do so.

NEW SURVEILLANCE FOOTAGE

As we reported ... Fulton County D.A. Paul Howard announced 11 charges against Garrett Rolfe, including multiple counts of aggravated assault. Howard claims Rolfe kicked Rayshard while he lay dying.

Howard didn't mince words ... he doesn't believe Rolfe feared for his life and noted Rayshard had been cordial, cooperative and calm for more than 41 minutes before he was fatally shot.

The D.A. also said Rolfe was not motivated by fear but rather "another type of emotion." Howard didn't specifically say which emotion, but did say you can hear Rolfe right after he shot Brooks say, "I got him."

Originally Published -- 9:34 AM PT

Breonna Taylor Killing KY AG Addresses Case ... We're Working Nonstop, But No Update Yet

Breaking News
STAY PATIENT
WDRB

12:43 PM PT -- AG Cameron says he continues to be "saddened and heartbroken" over Breonna's death, but as of right now ... there's nothing new to report on her case.

The KY Attorney General avoided getting into specifics of the investigation, other than to explain how and why he got involved and lay out the overall plan ... which he says is to follow the truth and be "thorough and fair" to everyone involved.

Cameron says his team is working around the clock and it's an expedited process, but also pleaded for patience and for the public to remain peaceful during the process. He added ... "violence and lawlessness will do nothing more than perpetuate further tragedy."

The investigation into Breonna Taylor's death -- at the hands of Louisville cops -- should be addressed Thursday by KY Attorney General Daniel Cameron, who's now special prosecutor on the case.

TMZ will be live streaming Cameron's news conference in Frankfort at 3 PM ET. While his office says it will be "informational only" -- meaning charges won't be announced -- Cameron certainly has a lot to address regarding the case ... including allegations of a cover-up.

It's interesting because earlier Thursday ... a courthouse in Louisville was boarded up and staffers were told to leave the building. Word is they were informed no charges were going to be filed against the 3 Louisville Metro Police officers who fired their weapons March 13 while raiding Breonna's home ... and they're anticipating rioting in response.

Our sources say, the AG is not making any such announcement and doesn't know how that rumor started.

As for those 3 cops -- Sgt. Jonathan Mattingly, Brett Hankison and Myles Cosgrove -- none of them have lost their jobs or been suspended. All 3 have simply been placed on administrative reassignment for now.

As we've reported ... Breonna -- a 26-year-old ER technician -- was shot 8 times after the officers arrived in plainclothes shortly after midnight to serve a no-knock warrant as part of a narcotics investigation.

Though police claim they announced themselves, Breonna and her boyfriend, Kenneth Walker, allegedly didn't hear them, and Walker fired on the officers after they used a battering ram to open the door.

Walker says he thought the cops were intruders, and Breonna was killed in the ensuing gunfire. According to Taylor's legal team ... they have 16 neighbors who claim the plainclothes officers didn't announce their presence before going inside.

Even worse -- the initial police report about the raid stated there were "no injuries" ... which obviously doesn't make any sense. The major issue with the case, unlike George Floyd's killing, is no audio or video of the incident has surfaced ... at least not yet.

We broke the story ... Breonna's mother and attorneys believe there may be more evidence than law enforcement has been willing to disclose, and are demanding the release of documents and any footage available. Taylor's side believes a "cover-up" might be afoot.

Of course, Breonna's story is one of several about black Americans being killed by cops that has sparked nationwide protests to end racism and police brutality ... and the movement's still demanding justice for her.

Originally Published -- 11:49 AM PT

Vanessa Bryant Championing 'Kobe & Gianna Helicopter Safety Act' ... We Can Save Lives

Breaking News

Vanessa Bryant is rallying politicians to get behind the "Kobe and Gianna Bryant Helicopter Safety Act" ... a bill outlining safety measures she claims will "save many lives."

The KGBHSA was formally introduced by lawmakers on Thursday -- and would require choppers that carry 6 or more people to contain important safety equipment including a Terrain Awareness and Warning System, a flight data recorder and a cockpit voice recorder.

Vanessa immediately threw her support behind the bill -- saying, "I strongly urge that the United States Congress pass a federal law that would improve the safety of helicopters operating in this country."

"I believe there is a chance that Kobe and Gianna would still be alive today if their helicopter had been equipped with the safety equipment required by this pending federal legislation."

She added, "I believe that these safety measures will save many lives."

"As passengers traveling on aircrafts we assume that proper safety measures are in order to prevent accidents from happening before we fly. It's unfortunate that this is not the case and aircraft companies must do their part to protect lives."

Kobe, Gianna and 7 other people died on January 26 when their helicopters crashed in Calabasas, CA.

As we previously reported, officials believe the pilot might've been disoriented by the thick fog in the area that day.

Vanessa is also pushing for the helicopter industry to "consider renaming the black box to Mamba 8 Box in honor of the 3 young Mamba team players, the 2 Mamba coaches and the 3 Mamba parents onboard, equaling 8."

Story developing ...

H.E.R. 'I Can't Breathe' ... Floyd Tribute Aims to Heal

Exclusive
SPEAKING THROUGH MY MUSIC
TMZ.com

H.E.R. wants to send a powerful message with her new song honoring George Floyd -- one that captures the feelings and concerns millions of Americans have since he was killed.

The Grammy winner tells us why she had to write, "I Can't Breathe," after conversations with fellow artists, and herself, about Floyd's death and the country's emotional reaction to it.

H.E.R. says the track tackles one important question that's been ringing in the heads of so many people lately: Why is there so much hate???

The singer/songwriter believes all artists should use their platform to talk about the George Floyd tragedy, because music can be a powerful vehicle for change. Specifically, the change she wants to see is healing -- and she's confident her new track can do that.

We had a great convo with H.E.R. about why it's important for artists to speak from the heart now, and music bridging the racial divide in America. You can see all of that on Thursday's TMZ Live.

"I Can't Breathe" drops Friday, which is Juneteenth, and no ... it's not a coincidence she chose that day.

Rayshard Brooks Family Says He Died For Higher Reason ... Spark Change in Atlanta

Exclusive

Rayshard Brooks' death at the hands of police won't be in vain, and will lead to lasting changes in Atlanta ... at least that's how his family is viewing his legacy.

One of Rayshard's cousins, Decatur Redd, tells TMZ ... the family thinks the felony murder charge brought against the officer who fired the fatal shots is a start, and makes it feel like Rayshard died for a reason.

GONE BUT NOT FORGOTTEN
TMZ.com

Decatur says charging Garrett Rolfe, the fired cop who fatally shot Rayshard in the back, won't bring back his cousin, but it could help Georgia enact its first hate crime bill.

As we reported ... Fulton County District Attorney Paul Howard announced 11 charges against Rolfe Wednesday, including felony murder and multiple acts of aggravated assault.

Decatur tells us family members had trouble sleeping leading up to the announcement, because they feared Rayshard's killer would not be charged, which he says would have reopened lots of wounds in Atlanta.

That all changed, of course, after the D.A.'s announcement, and he shared the emotions of that moment.

The felony murder charge wasn't the only shock to the family. Decatur says it was heartbreaking to hear Rayshard didn't get timely medical aid -- and to see Rolfe kicked him as he lay dying.

Kobe Bryant Crash Pilot Might've Been Disoriented by Fog ... Investigators Say

Breaking News

Kobe Bryant's helicopter pilot was most likely severely disoriented by fog seconds before slamming into a hillside in January -- that's what federal investigators are now saying.

In new documents released Wednesday ... NTSB officials say they have evidence showing Ara Zobayan thought he was ascending when the chopper was actually going downward.

In the docs, investigators claim moments before the crash ... Zobayan told air traffic control he was "climbing to four thousand," and air traffic control asked him what he intended to do once he got to that altitude.

The NTSB says Zobayan never responded -- he had crashed by that point. Interestingly, according to the docs, the helicopter was actually descending rapidly at the time Zobayan said he was climbing.

Investigators add they believe "the pilot could have misperceived both pitch and roll angles" due to the dense fog in the area.

As we previously reported, Zobayan, Bryant and seven others on board hit the the ground at 184 MPH ... instantly killing everybody.

Autopsy results showed Zobayan was NOT high on alcohol or drugs at the time of the crash ... and in the new docs, investigators say Zobayan's girlfriend told them he was in great shape before the accident.

Vanessa Bryant and surviving family members of other passengers have sued the Zobayan and Island Express, which chartered the helicopter.

Various pilots have said Zobayan should not have been flying at such a high rate of speed in blinding fog.

It should be noted, investigators did NOT reveal an official conclusion on the cause of the crash. A final NTSB report with that information is expected to be released later.

Old news is old news!
Be First!

Get TMZ breaking news sent right to your browser!