After news broke Friday that Los Angeles County Sheriff's deputies allegedly leaked graphic photos from the helicopter crash scene that killed NBA legend, Kobe Bryant, his 13-year-old daughter Gianna, and seven others, department officials are "deeply disturbed" over the alleged privacy breach.
"The sheriff is deeply disturbed at the thought deputies could allegedly engage in such an insensitive act," a statement from the department said, according to ABC News. "A thorough investigation will be conducted by the department, with the number one priority of protecting the dignity and privacy of the victims and their families."
The story, initially reported by the Los Angeles Times reported that a "public safety source with knowledge of the events" had allegedly seen one of the photos on the phone of another official amid a setting not related to the investigation of the crash. The source reported the photos showed graphic images of the scene and the remains of victims.
While TMZ alleges the source was a bartender who overheard the conversation and filed an online complaint, the agency is also reporting that the Sheriff's Department knew about this leak for almost three weeks, with the deputy trainee showing the photos off to a woman in a bar, just days after the crash.
Capt. Jorge Valdez told the Times that "his office had been obligated to contact the family members of crash victims" about the photos not because of the allegations, but rather the media inquiry. He explained he was "unaware of any complaint" about the alleged leaked images.
Bryant, Gianna Bryant and seven others were killed in a helicopter crash on Jan. 26 when they were traveling to a youth basketball tournament at the Lakers star's Mamba Sports Academy facility. The crash has been officially ruled an accident by the L.A. County Coroner, although investigators are still attempting to determine further details, including the cause of the crash, which occurred on a particularly foggy morning.
A memorial for Bryant and Gianna was held Monday, Feb. 24 at the Staples Center, where Bryant's widow, Vanessa Bryant delivered a heartbreaking eulogy for both her husband and daughter.
Bryant's wife, Vanessa has since filed a wrongful death lawsuit against the helicopter company, claiming the helicopter should have never been permitted to fly due to the weather conditions. The 76-page lawsuit also argues that the aircraft was unsafe, as it lacked a Terrain Awareness and Warning System. She is also seeking damages for the "pain and anguish" her husband and daughter could have potentially suffered amid the crash.