Kobe Bryant: LA sheriff says deputies took graphic crash-scene photos
The sheriff of Los Angeles County has said eight deputies have admitted possessing graphic photos of Kobe Bryant's helicopter crash site.
Alex Villanueva said he was "devastated and heartbroken" by the conduct of those responsible.
The sheriff told US media on Monday that the deputies involved had deleted the images on his direction.
The basketball legend and his 13-year-old daughter were among nine who died in the crash on 26 January.
The circulation of photos from the crash site and victims' remains was first reported by the Los Angeles Times last week.
Skip Twitter post by @LACoSheriff
I am devastated and heartbroken by the conduct of those first responders who had the responsibility to protect the dignity and privacy of the victims who perished in the tragic helicopter crash in #Calabasas. #SheriffV
See video from NBC Today Show: https://t.co/aXw8WpsNNF
— Alex Villanueva (@LACoSheriff) March 2, 2020
End of Twitter post by @LACoSheriff
In response to the report, Bryant's wife, Vanessa, said she was "absolutely devastated" by the "inexcusable and deplorable" actions of first responders.
A lawyer for Bryant's widow said Mr Villanueva had assured her that "all measures would be put in place to protect the families' privacy".
"This is an unspeakable violation of human decency, respect, and of the privacy rights of the victims and their families," the lawyer's statement said.
"We are demanding that those responsible for these alleged actions face the harshest possible discipline, and that their identities be brought to light, to ensure that the photos are not further disseminated."
In an interview with NBC News, Mr Villanueva said the photos were brought to his attention by someone who had overheard a trainee deputy discussing them at a bar.
"That was my number one priority, to make sure those photos no longer exist," Mr Villanueva said.
"We identified the deputies involved, they came to the station on their own and had admitted they had taken them and they had deleted them. And we're content that those involved did that."
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Mr Villanueva told KABC-TV that the deputies were under investigation and could face disciplinary action.
Only personnel from the National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) and the coroner's office were authorised to take photos of the crash scene, Mr Villanueva said.
At least two LA County Fire Department firefighters also took photos and were ordered to delete them, NBC News report.
The cause of the crash in foggy weather west of Los Angeles, California, is still being investigated. Bryant was on his way to coach his daughter Gianna's basketball team in a local youth tournament at the Mamba Sports Academy.
Lawyers for Vanessa Bryant have filed a lawsuit against the company that operated the helicopter, accusing the pilot of negligence.
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Bryant was a five-time NBA champion for his only team, the Los Angeles Lakers, and a double Olympic gold medallist. After a 20-year career with the team he retired in April 2016.