Vanessa Bryant is “absolutely devastated” over reports that first responders shared graphic photos of the crash site where her husband and 13-year-old daughter and seven other people died in a helicopter accident, her lawyer said in a statement on Sunday.
Bryant went personally to the sheriff’s office on Jan. 26, the day Kobe and Gianna Bryant died in the crash in Calabasas, California, to request that the area be designated a no-fly zone and protected from photographers in order to “protect the dignity of all the victims, and their families,” attorney Gary C. Robb wrote in a statement on behalf of Vanessa Bryant.
He said Bryant had been assured by Sheriff Alex Villanueva that measures would be enforced to protect the families’ privacy.
“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,” read the statement, which was published to Bryant’s Instagram profile.
The Los Angeles Times first reported the allegations last week, citing two public safety sources with knowledge of the events. One of these sources alleged that he saw an image of the crash scene on the phone of another official in a setting unrelated to the investigation of the accident. The source claimed other images depicted the victims’ remains.
Calling the sharing of the images an “unspeakable violation of human decency, respect and of the privacy rights of the victims and their families,” Robb demanded that those responsible “face the harshest possible discipline, and that their identities be brought to light, to ensure that the photos are not further disseminated.”
In a statement posted to Facebook over the weekend, the Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department said it was aware of the allegations, which are under investigation.
“The Sheriff is deeply disturbed at the thought deputies could allegedly engage in such an insensitive act. A thorough investigation will be conducted by the Department, with the number one priority of protecting the dignity and privacy of the victims and their families,” the statement said.
Robb said his client was grateful to the person who filed an online complaint to expose the allegations.
Bryant’s attorneys have also filed a wrongful death lawsuit against the helicopter operator for allowing its pilot, Ara Zobayan, who also died in the crash, to fly in unsafe weather conditions.