Sheriff Says 8 Deputies Shared Gruesome Kobe Crash Photos

They were ordered to delete photos
By Rob Quinn,  Newser Staff
Posted Mar 3, 2020 3:48 AM CST
Sheriff Says 8 Deputies Shared Kobe Crash Photos
In this Jan. 27, 2020, file photo, investigators, top, work the scene of a helicopter crash that killed former NBA basketball player Kobe Bryant, his 13-year-old daughter, Gianna, and seven others in Calabasas, Calif.   (AP Photo/Mark J. Terrill, File)

Los Angeles County Sheriff Alex Villanueva says he felt a "sense of betrayal" when he found out that as many as eight deputies allegedly took and shared graphic photos of the helicopter crash that killed Kobe Bryant and eight others. The sheriff tells CNN that the only people authorized to take photos of the scene were the coroner's office and the National Transportation Safety Board. "Anybody outside of that would be unauthorized, they would be illicit photos," says Villanueva, who launched an investigation after the Los Angeles Times reported that deputies had been sharing photos of the scene and the victims' remains. He says police also receive a complaint from a citizen who said a trainee deputy had been showing the images in a bar.

Villaneuva says the deputies were ordered to delete the photos. "That was my No. 1 priority, was to make sure those photos no longer exist," the sheriff tells NBC Los Angeles. "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 says the deputies will face administrative action but he believes that if he had gone with the "usual routine" of relieving them of duty, it would have greatly increased the chances of the images becoming public. The sheriff says he wants to talk to lawmakers about making it a crime to take unauthorized photos of a crime or accident scene. (A lawyer for the NBA legend's widow says she was "absolutely devastated" when she heard about the deputies' actions.)

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