LA County sheriff says 8 deputies took Bryant crash photos

California

FILE – In this Monday, Jan. 27, 2020 file photo, investigators, top, work the scene of a helicopter crash that killed former NBA basketball player Kobe Bryant, his 13-year-old daughter, Gianna, and seven others as Los Angeles County Sheriff’s deputies patrol in an all-terrain vehicle on a hillside in Calabasas, Calif. Authorities are investigating whether deputies shared graphic photos of the crash scene, according to a Los Angeles Times report quoting an unnamed source. Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Deputy Maria Lucero told The Associated Press on Friday, Feb. 28 that “the matter is being looked into.” (AP Photo/Mark J. Terrill, File)

LOS ANGELES (AP) — Los Angeles County Sheriff Alex Villanueva said eight deputies allegedly took or shared graphic photos of the Kobe Bryant helicopter crash scene, but he ordered them deleted.

“That was my No. 1 priority, was to make sure those photos no longer exist,” Villanueva told NBC News for a story Monday. “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.”

The sheriff said he learned the week of the crash that as many as eight deputies may have been involved.

“We’ve communicated in no uncertain terms that the behavior is inexcusable,” Villanueva said. “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.”

Villanueva said the Sheriff’s Department doesn’t have a specific policy about taking photographs on personal cellphones. But he plans to change that situation and would like to see a state law making it illegal to take unauthorized photos of accident scenes depicting dead bodies.

Bryant, his daughter and seven others died on Jan. 26 when their helicopter crashed into a hillside in Calabasas, northwest of Los Angeles, during cloudy weather. The victims were traveling to a youth basketball tournament at Bryant’s sports facility in Thousand Oaks.

The crash remains under investigation by the National Transportation Safety Board.

Bryant’s widow, Vanessa Bryant, was “absolutely devastated” by the reports of unauthorized crash scene photos being shared, her lawyer said last week.

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