Kobe Bryant Crash: 8 Deputies Accused Of Sharing Graphic Crash Scene Photos
By Paris Close
March 3, 2020
The explicit photographs taken at Kobe Bryant’s helicopter crash scene have since been deleted, Los Angeles County Sheriff Alex Villanueva confirmed.
Speaking to NBC News on Monday (March 2), Villanueva stated he ordered eight deputies to delete graphic photos taken at the horrific scene to prevent them from leaking to the public. "That was my No. 1 priority, was to make sure those photos no longer exist," Villanueva told the outlet. "We identified the deputies involved, they came to the station on their own and had admitted they had taken them and they had deleted them. And, we're content that those involved did that."
Villanueva added, "We've communicated in no uncertain terms that the behavior is inexcusable. I mean, people are grieving for the loss of their loved ones. To have that on top of what they've already gone through is unconscionable.”
The all-star athlete and his 13-year-old daughter, Gianna, were among the nine passengers to lose their lives in the tragedy on January 26. Last week, the sheriff’s department was notified that images from the crash site had been disseminated at a bar between a bartender and another person, presumably a trainee deputy.
Kobe’s widow Vanessa Bryant was “devastated” by the allegations. In a statement via her lawyer, Vanessa called the supposed incidents “an unspeakable violation of human decency, respect, and of the privacy rights of the victims and their families” and demanded that those "responsible for these alleged actions face the harshest possible discipline, and that their identities be brought to light, to ensure that the photos are not further disseminated.”
According to CNN, the eight deputies accused of sharing those images are facing administrative action. "I personally apologized ... on behalf of the poor conduct of our employees and we want to make things right," Villanueva told the outlet. "We don't want to extend or increase anybody's anguish."
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CORRECTED: The department at issue is the Los Angeles County Fire Dept (LACoFD) NOT the LAFD KANSAS CITY, Mo.--(repost: BUSINESS WIRE)--Statement From Gary C. Robb, Legal Counsel on Behalf of His Client, Vanessa Bryant: Our client, Vanessa Bryant, is absolutely devastated by allegations that deputies from the Lost Hills Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department and Los Angeles County Fire Department publicly disseminated photos from the helicopter crash site. Mrs. Bryant personally went to the Sheriff’s office on January 26th and requested that the area be designated a no-fly zone and protected from photographers. This was of critical importance to her as she desired to protect the dignity of all the victims, and their families. At that time, Sheriff Alex Villanueva assured us all measures would be put in place to protect the families’ privacy, and it is our understanding that he has worked hard to honor those requests. First responders should be trustworthy. It is inexcusable and deplorable that some deputies from the Lost Hills Sheriff’s substation, other surrounding substations and LACOFD would allegedly breach their duty. This is an unspeakable violation of human decency, respect, and of the privacy rights of the victims and their families. We are demanding that those responsible for these alleged actions face the harshest possible discipline, and that their identities be brought to light, to ensure that the photos are not further disseminated. We are requesting an Internal Affairs investigation of these alleged incidents. Mrs. Bryant is grateful to the individual who filed an online complaint exposing these acts of injustice, and for the choice to protect human dignity. We ask that anyone else who has information as to the facts underlying these alleged grievous and shameful incidents contact our office at 816–474-8080 or email via www.robbrobb.com
Photo: Getty Images