Vanessa Bryant is "absolutely devastated" by the allegations that first responders shared pictures of her husband's helicopter crash among themselves. According to a report by The Los Angeles Times, Vanessa's lawyer has slammed the deputies who did so, calling it an "unspeakable violation of human decency." The L.A. Sheriff's Department says that it is investigating the allegations.
A source told The L.A. Times on Thursday that they had seen photos from the helicopter crash that killed Kobe Bryant, his 13-year-old daughter Gianna and seven others. They said that a deputy had shown the images to them and others at a bar. On Friday, the paper reported that the sheriff's department was quietly ordering deputies to delete the photos before the scandal got out of hand.
Gary Robb, the attorney for Bryant's widow Vanessa, noted that Vanessa went to the sheriff's office on the day of the crash — Sunday, Jan. 26 — "and requested that the area be designated a no-fly zone and protected from photographers."
"This was of critical importance to her as she desired to protect the dignity of all the victims, and their families," Robb went on. "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 added that the existence or sharing of photos from the crash site would be "an unspeakable violation of human decency, respect, and of the privacy rights of the victims and their families." He called for the deputies who had shared the photos to "face the harshest possible discipline, and that their identities be brought to light, to ensure that the photos are not further disseminated."
It is not clear if Vanessa is taking legal action against the deputies or the department over the alleged photos. However, she is already suing the company that owned the helicopter her husband and daughter died in, and the pilot who was flying it. She is seeking damages from Island Express Helicopters Inc. for "pain and anguish" following the crash, for the wrongful death of her family members.
The helicopter was carrying Bryant and 13-year-old Gianna from their home in Orange County, California to Thousand Oaks, California for a youth basketball tournament. They were travelling with two of Gianna's teenage teammates, three other parents, an assistant coach and the pilot, Ara Zobayan. There were no survivors in the crash.