LOS ANGELES (CBSLA) — The civilian oversight panel of the Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department has agreed to examine the agency’s policies at taking photographs at crime and accident scenes after the recent controversy over deputies sharing photos of the helicopter crash that killed Kobe Bryant and eight others.
Sheriff Alex Villanueva asked the panel to review the policies, according to a report from the Los Angeles Times.
“We accepted the invitation … and look forward to working with the sheriff on this,” Patti Giggans, the Sheriff Civilian Oversight Commission chairwoman, told the newspaper Saturday.
Villanueva said last week that eight deputies were involved in taking and sharing photos of the remains of Kobe Bryant and other victims at the site of the Jan. 26 Calabasas crash and that he ordered those photos to be destroyed.
The deputies involved face possible disciplinary action once the department concludes its investigation.
“It was such a hard scene dealing with the families firsthand at Lost Hills Station… reassuring that that we’re doing everything possible, and then to find out days later that this happened; it’s just a sense of betrayal,” Villanueva previously said. “All photos that we know of that were in possession of the individuals were deleted.”
Villanueva said that the National Transportation Safety Board and the Los Angeles County coroner’s officer were the only agencies that were supposed to be taking photos at the crash site.
TMZ reported that the deputies who responded to the crash scene took the photos that included the victims’ remains and said one of them was a trainee deputy who tried to impress a girl at a bar a few days after the crash by showing her the photos. According to TMZ, a bartender overheard that conversation and filed an online complaint with the sheriff’s department.
In a statement issued by the department, Villanueva said he was “deeply disturbed at the thought deputies could allegedly engage in such an insensitive act.”
According to a report from the Times, public safety sources with knowledge of the events said in the days following the crash, the department quietly ordered deputies to delete photos from the scene to avoid facing disciplinary action.
The helicopter crashed into a Calabasas hillside earlier this year in heavy fog, killing the retired Laker legend, his 13-year-old daughter Gianna, and seven others on their way to a youth basketball game. The other victims were Christina Mauser; Payton and Sarah Chester; John, Keri and Alyssa Altobelli; and pilot Ara Zobayan.
(© Copyright 2019 CBS Broadcasting Inc. All Rights Reserved. City News Service contributed to this report.)