Vanessa Bryant ‘devastated’ by allegation deputies shared crash site photos

According to a media report, LA County Sheriff deputies may have shared images showing human remains after the crash on January 26.

Vanessa Bryant said she specifically asked sheriff’s officials on the day of the crash to declare the area a no-fly zone to guard against photographers trying to cash in on the accident.   -  AP

Kobe Bryant’s widow, Vanessa, is “absolutely devastated” by a report that sheriff's deputies may have shared graphic photos of the site of helicopter crash that killed the NBA legend and eight others, her representatives said on Sunday.

The Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department said on Friday it was investigating a Los Angeles Times report that deputies may have shared images showing human remains in the days after the January 26 crash in the hills west of Los Angeles. A statement written by Gary Robb, an attorney representing Vanessa Bryant, and posted on her Instagram page, said she specifically asked sheriff’s officials on the day of the crash to declare the area a no-fly zone to guard against photographers trying to cash in on the accident.

“This was of critical importance to her as she desired to protect the dignity of all the victims, and their families,” the statement 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 honour those requests.”

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CORRECTED: The department at issue is the Los Angeles County Fire Dept (LACoFD) NOT the LAFD KANSAS CITY, Mo.--(repost: BUSINESS WIRE)--Statement From Gary C. Robb, Legal Counsel on Behalf of His Client, Vanessa Bryant: Our client, Vanessa Bryant, is absolutely devastated by allegations that deputies from the Lost Hills Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department and Los Angeles County Fire Department publicly disseminated photos from the helicopter crash site. Mrs. Bryant personally went to the Sheriff’s office on January 26th 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. 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. First responders should be trustworthy. It is inexcusable and deplorable that some deputies from the Lost Hills Sheriff’s substation, other surrounding substations and LACOFD would allegedly breach their duty. This is an unspeakable violation of human decency, respect, and of the privacy rights of the victims and their families. We are demanding that those responsible for these alleged actions face the harshest possible discipline, and that their identities be brought to light, to ensure that the photos are not further disseminated. We are requesting an Internal Affairs investigation of these alleged incidents. Mrs. Bryant is grateful to the individual who filed an online complaint exposing these acts of injustice, and for the choice to protect human dignity. We ask that anyone else who has information as to the facts underlying these alleged grievous and shameful incidents contact our office at 816–474-8080 or email via www.robbrobb.com

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Sharing of photos of the crash site, where the Bryants’ 13-year-old daughter Gianna was also among the victims, “is an unspeakable violation of human decency, respect, and of the privacy rights of the victims and their families,” the statement said, adding that Bryant and her lawyers were requesting a sheriff’s department internal investigation into the allegations.

The Los Angeles Times report on Thursday said it was unclear how many people may have seen the photos or whether deputies had captured the images at the scene or received them from someone else. The TMZ.com entertainment news website reported on Friday that the allegations first surfaced after a complaint.

TMZ, quoting unidentified law enforcement sources, said a trainee sheriff’s deputy at the crash site had taken photos on a smart phone and was subsequently overheard by a bartender showing the images to a customer in a bar. The bartender then lodged a complaint, TMZ reported.

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