LA county sheriff admits deputies took, deleted Kobe Bryant crash photos

Eight deputies were ordered to delete the devastating photos of the helicopter crash in order to mitigate any risk of the pictures being shared with the public

Gianna Bryant and her father, former NBA player Kobe Bryant, attend the WNBA All-Star Game 2019 at the Mandalay Bay Events Center on July 27, 2019 in Las Vegas, Nevada. (Photo by Ethan Miller/Getty Images)

Vanessa Bryant‘s attorney demanded an internal affairs investigation into allegations that Los Angeles County sheriff’s deputies had shared photos of the helicopter crash that claimed the lives of her husband, Kobe Bryant, her daughter, Gianna Bryant, and seven others in January. Now it appears her fears have been confirmed.

According to NBC Los Angeles, this week, LA County Sheriff Alex Villanueva responded to Bryant’s team. He ordered eight deputies to delete the devastating photos of the helicopter crash in order to mitigate any risk of the pictures being shared with the public.

READ MORE: Los Angeles sheriff’s deputies allegedly shared graphic photos from Kobe Bryant helicopter crash

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

“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.”

He discovered last week that the deputies in question – which includes a trainee deputy assigned to the Lost Hills Station – had taken and/or exchanged the graphic photos. Villanueva maintained he wasted no time in reprimanding them for the lapse in judgment.

READ MORE: A week after the tragic crash, the remains of Kobe Bryant, Gigi and others are released to their families

“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. And, to think any member of our department would be involved in that.”

Villanueva also revealed that the sheriff’s department became alerted to this security breach after a Good Samaritan dropped a tip that they’d overheard a conversation between a bartender and a customer who was bragging about having photos from the scene of Bryant’s helicopter crash. That loose-lipped bar patron is now suspected to have been the trainee deputy.

READ MORE: Kobe Bryant’s sisters issue statement after tragic death: ‘Our lives are forever changed’

Sources connected to law enforcement told the news station that at least two LA County Fire Department firefighters were suspected of taking images of the crash as well. They were directed by officials to delete them.

“This is an unspeakable violation of human decency, respect, and of the privacy rights of the victims and their families,” Vanessa’s lawyer Gary C. Robb said in a statement.

“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.”

 

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