The widow of former Lakers star Kobe Bryant has filed a claim against the Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department for allegedly sharing unauthorized photos of the scene of the Jan. 26 helicopter crash that killed her husband, their daughter and seven others.
Vanessa Bryant filed her claim on Friday, alleging that Sheriff Alex Villanueva personally assured her that deputies were securing the crash site to ensure her privacy, the Los Angeles Times reported.
“In reality, however, no fewer than eight sheriff’s deputies were at the scene snapping cell-phone photos of the dead children, parents, and coaches,” the claim states, according to the Times. “As the department would later admit, there was no investigative purpose for deputies to take pictures at the crash site. Rather, the deputies took photos for their own personal purposes.”
The claim — a precursor to a lawsuit — also faults the department’s response to the scandal.
The sheriff’s department did not comment on the claim, but officials said their internal affairs case is still being investigated.
In March, the department’s civilian oversight panel — at Villanueva’s urging – agreed to examine the agency’s policies on taking photographs at crime and accident scenes in response to the controversy.
“We accepted the invitation … and look forward to working with the sheriff on this,” Patti Giggans, the Sheriff Civilian Oversight Commission chairwoman, told the Los Angeles Times.
Villanueva has admitted that eight deputies were involved in taking and sharing photos of the remains of Kobe Bryant and other victims at the scene of the crash in Calabasas, and that he ordered the photos to be destroyed
“That was my number one priority, to make sure those photos no longer existed,” Villanueva told NBC4.
The deputies involved are facing possible disciplinary action.
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