Los Angeles Sheriff Alex Villanueva has officially confirmed that eight of the county’s officers have been found to have shared photos taken of the crash that killed Kobe Bryant, his daughter Gianna, and their fellow passengers in January 2020.
Alex Villanueva said, “It was such a hard scene, dealing with the families first hand at Lost Hills station. All three families were there except for the pilot’s family. They were all present and we’re reassuring them [that] we’re doing everything possible and then to find out, you know, days later that this happened … it’s just a sense of betrayal.”
He also commented that none of the deputies on the scene should have taken photos at all, let alone shared them.
Legally, only people associated with the county coroner’s office and investigators with the National Transportation Safety Board were allowed to photograph the scene.
“That is the only two groups of people. Anybody outside of that would be unauthorized. They’d be illicit photos.”
Alex also said that the department first became aware of the issue when a report surfaced that a trainee was sharing photos of the scene at a bar. He told NBC’s Today show, “I am devastated and heartbroken by the conduct of those first responders who had the responsibility to protect the dignity and privacy of the victims who perished in the tragic helicopter crash in Calabasas.”
Vanessa Bryant has also shared her dismay. Her lawyer released a statement that reads, “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 photographer. 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.”
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