Following the "deeply disturbing" allegations of a potential crash scene photo leak involving NBA legend, Kobe Bryant, his 13-year-old daughter, Gianna and seven other victims, Los Angeles County Sheriff's deputies at the center of the heinous privacy breach were reportedly told they could avoid disciplinary action if they simply admitted their involvement and deleted the images. According to Fox News, a source told the Los Angeles Times that the alleged "quiet attempt to let the deputies off the hook could amount to destruction of evidence."
The story, initially reported from the Times reports that a "public safety source with knowledge of the events" had allegedly stored images from the crash site and shared them in a setting not related to the investigation of the accident, currently under investigation. The source went on to detail how the photos showed graphic images of the scene and remains of victims. TMZ alleges the Sheriff's Department knew about this leak for almost three weeks, with the deputy trainee in question showing the photos off to a woman in a bar, just days after the crash.
Fox News reports chairwoman of the sheriff's department's Civilian Oversight Commission, Patti Giggans called the actions "completely unprofessional" and "very regrettable." The commission's executive director, Brian Williams told the Times his office is planning to question the department about the matter next week.
Sheriff Alex Villanueva's issued a statement Friday, admitting they were "deeply disturbed" by the reported misuse of evidence and promised "a thorough investigation" in the coming weeks. Prior to the revelation though, the Sheriff did not respond on whether the photos had been ordered for deletion.
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.
Photo credit: Rich Polk/Getty Images for The Players' Tribune