The widow of former NBA star Kobe Bryant responded to reports that Los Angeles sheriff’s deputies allegedly shared graphic photos of the helicopter crash that killed him, his daughter, and seven others.
Vanessa Bryant’s lawyer, Gary Robb, said that the sharing of photos would be “an unspeakable violation of human decency, respect, and of the privacy rights of the victims and their families,” according to news reports.
The Los Angeles Times last week reported on the alleged incident, prompting the Los Angeles Sheriff’s Office to confirm to several news outlets that the matter is under investigation.
Robb called for individuals who allegedly shared the photos to “face the harshest possible discipline, and that their identities be brought to light, to ensure that the photos are not further disseminated.”
On the day of the crash, Vanessa Bryant went to the Los Angeles Sheriff’s Office “and requested that the area be designated a no-fly zone and protected from photographers,” Robb said, Fox News reported.
“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,” Robb added.
It’s not clear how far the photos were allegedly spread and who was responsible, according to the LA Times, which broke the story. A sheriff’s department source told the newspaper that one of the images was allegedly seen on the phone of an official in an inappropriate setting, and the same source added that there was a discussion among first responders about sharing photos of the victims’ remains and crash site.
Patti Giggans, the chief of the Sheriff Civilian Oversight Commission, told the LA Times last week that the alleged behavior is “completely unprofessional” and “very regrettable.”
On Feb. 28, Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Deputy Maria Lucero told The Associated Press that “the matter is being looked into.” And another spokesperson added to The Hill: “The matter is being looked into, and there are no further comments.”
Bryant’s helicopter crashed into a hill in Calabasas, California, amid foggy and poor weather conditions in late January. The crash killed Bryant and his 13-year-old daughter, Gianna, and seven other people including Christina Mauser; Payton and Sarah Chester; John, Keri, and Alyssa Altobelli; and pilot Ara Zobayan. His death prompted an outpouring of support among current and former NBA stars.