Vanessa Bryant is "absolutely devastated" by allegations that Los Angeles County sheriff's deputies personnel shared photos of the helicopter crash that killed Kobe Bryant, their 13-year-old daughter Gianna, and seven others.
In a statement by her attorney that Vanessa Bryant shared on Instagram, Gary Robb requested an internal affairs investigation into the accusations and the "harshest possible discipline".
Vanessa Bryant released a statement through her lawyer describing her devastation at the alleged actions of personnel from the sheriff’s department.Credit:Getty Images
Last week, the Los Angeles Times reported that deputies had been accused of sharing graphic photographs of the January 26 hillside crash site, with one deputy reportedly showing an image in a bar. The Times reported that the department ordered deputies to delete photos but did not initiate a formal inquiry or internal affairs investigation. Deputies were told, according to the report, that they would face no discipline if they deleted the photos.
The Los Angeles County Fire Department also is investigating whether firefighters had shared the images, CBS Los Angeles reported.
"First responders should be trustworthy. It is inexcusable and deplorable that some deputies from the Lost Hills Sheriff's substation, other surrounding substations and LAFD would allegedly breach their duty," Robb said. "This is an unspeakable violation of human decency, respect, and of the privacy rights of the victims and their families.
"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. We are requesting an internal affairs investigation of these alleged incidents."
In a Facebook post, the sheriff's department said, "The facts surrounding these allegations are currently under investigation, as are the effectiveness of existing policies and procedures. The Sheriff [Alex Villanueva] is deeply disturbed at the thought deputies could allegedly engage in such an insensitive act."
In his statement, Robb said Vanessa Bryant had gone to the sheriff's office after the crash in Calabasas and asked that the accident scene be designated a "no-fly zone" to shield it from aerial photography.
"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 said.
It is not known whether deputies took the images or obtained them from someone else. "Every police department struggles with the same thing, where people take photos and they're not evidence," Villanueva told the Times. "So that's a practice we have to make sure that everyone walks away, and there is no evidence other than the official photos of evidence that are taken for criminal purposes."
In Robb's statement, he said "Mrs Bryant is grateful to the individual who filed an online complaint exposing these acts of injustice and for the choice to protect human dignity."
The Washington Post
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