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Vanessa Bryant ‘devastated’ by reported sharing of graphic Kobe Bryant helicopter crash photos

Moving moments at Kobe and Gianna Bryant memorial
‘The Morning Show’ hosts talk about the moving moments at Kobe and Gianna Bryant's memorial at the Staples Centre on Monday.

Vanessa Bryant is “absolutely devastated” by reports that deputies shared photos of the helicopter crash that killed husband Kobe Bryant and their daughter, Gianna, her lawyer said in a statement.

Her lawyer, Gary C. Robb, alleges that Los Angeles County sheriff’s officials were responsible for the photo sharing, the Los Angeles Times reports.

Robb also requested an internal investigation and the “harshest possible discipline” for those involved.

“This is an unspeakable violation of human decency, respect, and of the privacy rights of the victims and their families,” he said in the statement.

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According to Robb, Bryant went to the sheriff’s office following the Jan. 26 crash, which claimed the lives of nine people, to designate the mountainous area a “no-fly zone” and guard it from photographers.

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“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 honour those requests,” Robb continued, according to CBS News.

An investigation has since been launched inside the sheriff’s department after a Los Angeles Times report said deputies were sharing graphic images of the scene.

The Los Angeles County Fire Department told CBS that a review of reports that firefighters also shared images was underway.

Vanessa Bryant posts touching tribute to her daughter Gianna
Vanessa Bryant posts touching tribute to her daughter Gianna

Another law enforcement source confirmed to CBS Los Angeles that photos of the crime scene were shared.

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Two public safety sources, according to the Times, said the L.A. County Sheriff’s Department ordered officials to delete any photos of the crash scene. A citizen reportedly complained that a deputy was showing gruesome images at a Norwalk bar.

Instead of triggering a formal inquiry, guilty deputies were ordered to report to the Los Hills station, come clean and delete the photos to avoid discipline.

Some sources told the L.A. Times that they felt deleting the photos would be considered destruction of evidence.

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Joseph Giacalone, teacher at the John Jay College of Criminal Justice in New York, said the L.A. County Office of the Inspector General should launch an inquiry into how the photo-sharing complaint was handled.

“Now the whole investigation is tainted,” he told the Times. “No matter what they find, the public is going to have a raised eyebrow.”

According to a third source who spoke to the publication, sharing of photos of the crash scene and the victims’ remains was a topic of discussion among first responders on the Calabasas scene in the days following the crash.

On Friday, the sheriff’s department shared a statement saying they would be conducting a thorough investigation.

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By Sunday, they’d release an additional statement, saying that “the facts surrounding these allegations are currently under investigation, as are the effectiveness of existing policies and procedures.”

meaghan.wray@globalnews.ca

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