A public safety officer who knew about the crash had seen one of the photos on the phone of another official in a setting that was unrelated to the investigation.
It has been revealed that the graphic photos from the deadly helicopter crash that killed NBA legend Kobe Bryant, his 13-year-old daughter Gigi and seven others on board, including the pilot, were leaked by Los Angeles County sheriff’s deputies, according to a source who told the Los Angeles Times. Bryant and his daughter, along with the others, were on their way to a youth basketball game in Thousand Oaks when the helicopter crashed into a Calabasas hillside. The cause of the crash is said to be dense fog that resulted in very low visibility. A public safety officer who knew about the crash had seen one of the photos on the phone of another official in a setting that was allegedly quite unrelated to the investigation of the crash.
The source, who insisted on remaining anonymous, due to the severity of the case, revealed that the photos showed the scene and victims’ remains. Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Deputy Maria Lucero told the Associated Press on Friday that “the matter is being looked into”. The Association for Los Angeles Deputy Sheriffs, the union that represents rank-and-file deputies, did not comment on the allegations. “As with all investigations, we will aggressively represent our members and preserve their rights,” the union said in a statement Friday. Patti Giggans, chair of the Sheriff Civilian Oversight Commission, told The Times on Friday that the alleged behavior is “completely unprofessional” and “very regrettable.”
“Hopefully we’ll hear more, what was going on and how they found out,” she said. “At this point, we have to trust that the sheriff is going to get to the bottom of it.” Brian Williams, the commission’s executive director, also assured that his office had plans to inquire about what happened. He also revealed that a meeting has been scheduled with the Sheriff’s Department next week. “I’m sure it’s something that the department is going to take very seriously,” he said. There is no clarity as to how the photos might have spread or if these officials themselves took the photo or if they received it from someone else.
Joseph Giacalone, who teaches police procedures at the John Jay College of Criminal Justice in New York, said sharing photos with anyone who is not authorized to see them “is a cardinal sin in law enforcement.” Widow Vanessa Bryant is reportedly devastated by the news and she took to Instagram to share a statement by her attorney Gary C. Robb, "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." As the post reads, "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." The statement also mentioned that "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."
They are hoping to find information and "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."