SACRAMENTO, Calif. — California Gov. Gavin Newsom on Monday signed a law that would make it a crime for any first responder to take unauthorized photos of deceased people at the scene of a crime or accident.
The bill, prompted by photographs taken at the scene of the January helicopter crash that killed NBA legend Kobe Bryant, his daughter and seven others, had been approved unanimously by both houses of the California Legislature last month, the Los Angeles Times reported.
Eight deputies were accused of taking or sharing graphic photos at the scene where Bryant and the others were killed, the Times reported. Los Angeles County Sheriff Alex Villanueva said he ordered the images deleted, adding that the department had a policy against taking and sharing crime scene photographs. The policy did not apply to accident scenes, according to the AP.
Three days after the helicopter crash, a Los Angeles County deputy was at a bar in Norwalk and allegedly showed other patrons the photographs from the scene, the Times reported.
“Like many others, I was mortified after I’d heard that first responders captured and shared unauthorized photos from the scene of the helicopter crash,” Assemblyman Mike Gipson, D-Carson, who drafted the legislation, said in a statement when the bill went to Newsom’s desk, NPR reported. “The actions of the first responders involved were unacceptable, and they highlighted a problem that demands a strong remedy.”
The signing of the law by Newsom comes several weeks after Bryant’s widow, Vanessa Bryant, sued the Los Angeles County sheriff, alleging that its deputies shared unauthorized photos of the crash, NPR reported.
An attorney for Vanessa Bryant called the alleged behavior by deputies “inexcusable and deplorable,” the Times reported.
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