Two Los Angeles County firefighters could be fired for allegedly taking graphic photos of the Kobe Bryant helicopter crash site, according to court documents filed this week, per the New York Post. Lawyers for the Los Angeles Lakers legend's widow, Vanessa Bryant, made the revelation in a filing about delaying the trial in her federal lawsuit against Los Angeles County. It's not clear if the two firefighters have already been fired.
The legal documents state that the two firefighters were sent "intent to discharge" letters last December after an internal investigation concluded they were part of the photo-sharing saga. The firefighters allegedly took photos of the crash victims' remains “served no business necessity” and “only served to appeal to baser instincts and desires for what amounted to visual gossip,” the filing reveals. They also shared the pics with a department media relations officer - who then showed them to off-duty firefighters and their wives and girlfriends during an event.
An "intention to suspend" letter was sent to the Los Angeles County Fire Department worker, but it's unclear if there was a suspension. According to NBC Los Angeles, none of them were identified by name, a spokesman for the Los Angeles County Fire Department could not confirm to NBC News if the three firefighters had been fired or disciplined.
The helicopter crash, which happened in January 2020, led to the death of Kobe Bryant, his 13-year-old daughter, Gianna and seven other people. Vanessa Bryant's lawsuit accuses various deputies, firefighters, and other officials of sharing photos of the bodies at the scene. Vanessa Bryant first filed an invasion of privacy lawsuit in state court in September and then moved it to federal court a month later.
"That was my number one priority to make sure those photos no longer existed," LA County Sheriff Alex Villanueva said to NBC News. "Had we done the original, usual routine, which was relieve everybody of duty and everybody lawyers up and all that, that would increase the odds 10-fold that those photos would have somehow made their way into the public domain,” Villanueva added. “And that's definitely what we do not want.”
On the day of the crash, Vanessa's lawyer, Gary Robb said his client took to the sheriff's office, requesting that the "area be designated a no-fly zone and protected from photographers." He also said. "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."