Deputies of the Los Angeles County Sheriff's Department are facing potential discipline after allegedly taking photos of the helicopter crash site where Kobe Bryant, his daughter Gianna, and seven others died on Jan. 26. The images have since been deleted, but the department is asking the civilian oversight panel to examine their policies on taking photographs of crime and accident scenes.
According to the Los Angeles Times, Sheriff Alex Villanueva has asked the panel to review the policies after the controversial incident. He revealed last week that eight deputies had been involved in taking and sharing photos of the remains of Bryant and other victims. Villanueva ordered that these images be destroyed and said that there was a "sense of betrayal" after he learned of the photos.
"We accepted the invitation … and look forward to working with the sheriff on this," Patti Giggans, the Sheriff Civilian Oversight Commission chairwoman, said to the Los Angeles Times.
Villanueva revealed that the Los Angeles County coroner's office and the National Transportation Safety Board were the only agencies that were supposed to take photos of the crash scene. However, the deputies allegedly took photos on their cell phones.
According to TMZ, one deputy allegedly went to a bar and "he tried to impress a girl by showing her the photos." A bartender reportedly overheard the interaction and filed an online complaint with the Sheriff's Department.
An attorney for Bryant's wife, Vanessa, said that she had asked sheriff's officials to implement a no-fly zone around the crash site in order to limit opportunities for photographers on the day of the crash. This was done to prevent anyone from trying to "cash in" on the tragedy.
"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," a letter from the attorney stated. "We are demanding that those responsible for these alleged actions face the harshest possible discipline and that their identities be brought to light … we are requesting an Internal Affairs investigation of these alleged incidents."0comments
There were reports that the deputies had been told to delete the photos and that they would not face any discipline upon doing so. However, Capt. Jorge Valdez of the Sheriff's Information Bureau said that "there was no order given to delete any photographs."
Photo Credit: Ronen Tivony/Echoes Wire/Barcroft Media via Getty Images