L.A. Sheriff Orders Destruction of Kobe Bryant Crash Pics, Calls Photo Leak ‘Betrayal’

L.A. Sheriff Orders Destruction of Kobe Bryant Crash Pics, Calls Photo Leak 'Betrayal'
WENN

Los Angeles County Sheriff Alex Villanueva addresses the leak of photos from the late basketball legend’s helicopter crash site, confirming that he ordered eight deputies involved to delete the images to prevent wider distribution.

AceShowbiz – Los Angeles County Sheriff Alex Villanueva is speaking out after photos of Kobe Bryant‘s helicopter accident were leaked by some deputies. Addressing the matter on Monday, March 2, Villanueva confirmed that he ordered as many as eight deputies who snapped pictures from the crash site to delete the images to prevent wider distribution.

“We identified the deputies involved, they came to the station on their own and had admitted they had taken them and they had deleted them. And, we’re content that those involved did that,” he told NBC News. “That was my No. 1 priority, was to make sure those photos no longer exist.”

Calling the photo leak “inexcusable,” Villanueva added, “I mean, people are grieving for the loss of their loved ones. To have that on top of what they’ve already gone through is unconscionable. And, to think any member of our department would be involved in that… it’s just a sense of betrayal.”

The department took the action after it was alerted that one trainee deputy allegedly tried to use the photos to “impress a girl” at a bar, prompting the bartender, who overheard the conversation, to file an online complaint with staff at the Sheriff’s Department. At least two LA County Fire Department firefighters allegedly also took photos of the crash scene and were directed to delete them.

The National Transportation Safety Board and coroner’s office were the only agencies that were supposed to be taking photos at the scene of the crash.

In a statement issued by the department on Friday, Villanueva said he was “deeply disturbed at the thought deputies could allegedly engage in such an insensitive act.” He also promised that “a thorough investigation will be conducted by the department, with the No. 1 priority of protecting the dignity and privacy of the victims and their families.”

Meanwhile, there has been complaint from some inside the department who said the decision to delete the pics could amount to the destruction of evidence.

In a statement released through her attorney Gary C. Robb, Kobe’s widow Vanessa Bryant said she’s “absolutely devastated” and demanded anyone responsible for leaking the photos be punished for their “inexcusable and deplorable” action. The lawyer added, “This is an unspeakable violation of human decency, respect, and of the privacy rights of the victims and their families.”

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