Vanessa Bryant‘s lawyer said she is “absolutely devastated” by allegations that Los Angeles County sheriff’s deputies shared photos of the helicopter crash that claimed the lives of her husband, Kobe Bryant, her daughter, Gianna Bryant, and seven others in January.
In a statement posted to Bryant’s Instagram page on Sunday, attorney Gary C. Robb called on the sheriff’s office to be investigated by the department’s internal affairs bureau.
What’s more, the family attorney has demanded “the harshest possible discipline” for those responsible for sharing the alleged gruesome photos.
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KANSAS CITY, Mo.–(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
Vanessa Bryant, Robb said, personally went to the sheriff’s office after the Jan. 26 tragedy to request a “no-fly zone” near the crash site. She also wanted the area guarded against photographers.
“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,” Robb said.
The attorney also demanded that the deputies be identified “to ensure that the photos are not further disseminated.”
“First responders should be trustworthy,” said Robb, who called the allegations “inexcusable and deplorable” and a “breach of duty.”
On Friday, the Times reported that sheriff’s deputies who responded to the scene of the crash took pictures of the victims’ remains, citing two public safety sources.
Such allegations are normally followed up with a formal inquiry or internal affairs investigation, however, the sheriff’s department is accused of quietly asking the deputies involved to admit wrongdoing and delete the photos from their phones to avoid any discipline.
Capt. Jorge Valdez told The Times that his office is investigating the matter and contacted family members of the victims regarding the allegation – not because of the actual allegation but because the newspaper had inquired about it.
It is unclear how many deputies and city officials may have seen or shared the photos.
TMZ reported that the sheriff’s department first learned of this incident by a bartender after a sheriff’s deputy trainee reportedly went to a bar and “tried to impress a girl by showing her the photos,” according to a source.
The bartender allegedly heard the conversation and filed a complaint online with the police.
Robb said Vanessa Bryant is “grateful” to the individual for filing the online complaint and “exposing these acts of injustice, and for the choice to protect human dignity.”