Los Angeles County Sheriff Alex Villanueva told eight assistants took or shared images of Kobe and Gianna Bryant’s crash site, but requested that they are deleted.
“That was my number one priority, to make sure those photos no longer exist,” Villanueva told NBC News on Monday for the story.
“We identified the deputies involved. They came to the station on their own and admitted that they had been taken, so they were deleted. And we suspect that they were involved. We doubtless reported that the behavior was unforgivable,” Villanueva said. “I mean, people mourn the loss of their loved ones. To know that and to do things like this is unconscious.”
“We identified the deputies involved, they came to the station on their own, and they admitted they had taken them and they had deleted them. And we’re content that those involved did that.”
Villanueva added the sheriff’s department does not have a specific policy when it comes to photos on private phones but plans to change the situation and would like to see state law prohibit unauthorized photographing of scenes of the crash depicting the corpses.
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The sheriff told TV that deputies are under investigation and possible disciplinary action. He would not specify what acts they might cope with.
The sheriff’s office has a policy against taking and sharing photos from the crime scene, but that does not apply to the crash scene, the sheriff added.
Bryant, his daughter, and seven others were killed on January 26 when their helicopter crashed into Mont Calabasas, northwest of Los Angeles, during foggy weather.
Los Angeles Times reported seven days ago that a public safety source with knowledge of the incident saw one of the photos on the phone of another deputy in an environment unrelated to the crash investigation. He said the photos depict the scene and the remains of the victims.
Only the district coroner and the NTSB were authorized to photograph the crash site. After confronting grieving family members, “only a sense of betrayal occurs” to find out that other photos were taken, Sheriff Villanueva told T.V., describing it as “a blow to the stomach.”
Bryant’s widow, Vanessa Bryant, was “absolutely horrified” by reports of unauthorized photographs at the scene of the collision being shared, her lawyer said last week.
“This is an unspeakable violation of human decency, respect, and the privacy rights of victims and their families,” the statement read. “We are demanding that those responsible for these alleged actions face the possible discipline and that their identities are brought to light to ensure that the photos are not further disseminated,” said her lawyer Gary Robb.