Vanessa Bryant is responding to reports that deputies had been sharing graphic photos of the helicopter crash that killed her husband, NBA legend Kobe Bryant, their 13-year-old daughter Gianna and seven others.
On Thursday, the Los Angeles Times reported that a source claimed to have show photos of the crash scene and the victims’ remains. The sheriff’s department told the Times that “the matter is being looked into.”
The Times subsequently reported that the sheriff’s department had quietly told deputies that if they deleted images of the crash from their phones they wouldn’t face any disciplinary action, following a citizen’s complaint that a deputy had been showing off photos of the crash at a bar.
On Sunday, the Times reported, Bryant’s widow, Vanessa Bryant, has issued a statement in response to the reports, through her attorney Gary Robb.
According to Robb, Bryant is “absolutely devastated,” given that she visited the sheriff’s office on the day of the crash “and requested that the area be designated a no-fly zone and protected from photographers.”
He added: “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.”
As Robb stated, if deputies did share those photos amongst themselves it would be “an unspeakable violation of human decency, respect, and of the privacy rights of the victims and their families.”
He called for anyone who did share the photos to “face the harshest possible discipline, and that their identities be brought to light, to ensure that the photos are not further disseminated.”
On Monday, the department said they were “deeply disturbed at the thought deputies could allegedly engage in such an insensitive act” in a statement published by the Times. “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.”