Los Angeles, CA – The Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department has launched an investigation into who leaked graphic photos just hours after the horrific helicopter crash that killed National Basketball Association (NBA) legend Kobe Bryant.
Bryant, 41, and his 13-year-old daughter, Gianna, died on Jan. 26 when the helicopter flying them and seven friends to a basketball tournament at Mamba Academy in Thousand Oaks crashed into a Los Angeles County hillside.
It was unclear if the photos were leaked by deputies who were at the scene of the crash in Calabasas or if they’d been sent the pictures by somebody else, the Los Angeles Times reported.
Los Angeles County Sheriff Alex Villanueva said on Wednesday that he wouldn’t discuss the allegations in detail.
But Sheriff Villanueva clarified that none of the victims’ family members had lodged a complaint about the leak of the pictures.
Despite that fact, the sheriff’s department had to contact the families and formally notify them of the leaks because the Los Angeles Times had inquired about them, according to Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Captain Jorge Valdez.
The sheriff’s office confirmed they were in fact investigating how the pictures were leaked on Thursday, the New York Post reported.
A source told the Los Angeles Times that leaked pictures of victims’ remains and crash debris were a top of conversation amongst first responders in the days immediately following the helicopter crash.
He said he saw one of the photos on the phone of another official who had nothing to do with the crash investigation.
Bryant’s widow, Vanessa, has filed a wrongful death lawsuit against the company that operated the helicopter, the Los Angeles Times reported.
Crash investigators have said that they believe the fog, poor weather conditions, and pilot error were the cause of the crash, according to KABC.
A preliminary report said the National Transportation Safety Board had not found any evidence of engine failure but they have not yet released a final report on the incident.
This is not the first time that Los Angeles law enforcement has been on the hot seat for leaking celebrity photos, the Los Angeles Times reported.
A Los Angeles Police Department (LAPD) officer was fired when a police photo of Rihanna was leaked after she was beaten by Chris Brown in 2009.
And an investigation by the sheriff’s department discovered that celebrity investigator and author Anthony Pellicano was paying law enforcement for confidential information when the agency investigated who leaked documents and video related to Mel Gibson’s anti-Semitic rant during his drunk driving arrest in 2006, the Los Angeles Times reported.
Los Angeles is not the only city dealing with a leaky police department.
On Friday, New York Police Department (NYPD) officials sent out a video of NYPD Chief of Department Terence Monahan delivering a stern message in the wake of media leaks after two officers were shot within 12 hours in the Bronx 41st Precinct.
The video warning harsh punishments for leaks was sent to officers on Feb. 21 and had been leaked by Feb. 24, according to the New York Daily News.