The LA County Sheriff Department has announced that it has identified eight Sheriffs, and two firefighters involved in the snapping and distribution of the graphic photos from the Kobe Bryant helicopter crash site.
Sheriff Alex Villanueva while speaking to the Press, said he ordered the deletion of the photos to make sure that they did not make their way to the internet.
He said that eight of his deputies were involved, and NBC News has confirmed two firefighters were also a part of the investigation.
“That was my No. 1 priority, was to make sure those photos no longer exist,” Villanueva said.
He continued, “We identified the deputies Sheriffs 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 explained that he was made aware earlier this week, that eight Sheriffs had either taken, seen, or exchanged the photos, including a trainee of the department assigned to the Lost Hills Station. That specific station responded to the crash scene when it happened.
“We’ve communicated in no uncertain terms that the behaviour is inexcusable,” Villanueva said
He continued, “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.”
As for why he ordered the photos deleted, the Sheriff says “had we done the original, usual routine, which was relieved everybody of duty and everybody lawyers up and all that, that would increase the odds 10-fold that those photos would have somehow made their way into the public domain. And that’s definitely what we do not want.”
According to reports, the department was made aware of the situation after a bartender reported the situation. The person claimed they were having a conversation in a bar and the deputy mention the photos.
Vanessa Bryant who had released a statement through the family lawyer a few days ago, had said that she was devastated by the fact that any photos were taken, saying the behaviour inexcusable and deplorable for first responders to, “breach their duty.”
“This is an unspeakable violation of human decency, respect, and of the privacy rights of the victims and their families,” he said.
He continued, “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.”
In response to the horrible situation, the Sheriff says he will work on legislation which will make it illegal to take photographs at a graphic scene or make it officially part of the record, even if taken by a personal cell phone.
Kobe Bryant was killed in a helicopter crash, along with his 13-year-old daughter, after it slammed into a hillside in Los Angeles in extremely foggy weather.