Two Los Angeles County firefighters could be fired and a third suspended for allegedly taking and sharing graphic photos from the site of the helicopter crash that killed Kobe Bryant, his daughter, and seven others, according to court documents obtained by ESPN.
As reported by the outlet, an internal investigation by the Los Angeles County Fire Department found that two firefighters — whose names were not disclosed in Monday's (May 10) court filings as part of Vanessa Bryant's federal lawsuit against Los Angeles County that alleges invasion of privacy — had taken photos of the bodies in the helicopter wreckage.
The photos "served no business necessity," Vanessa's attorneys wrote in court documents, and "only served to appeal to baser instincts and desires for what amounted to visual gossip."
The two firefighters who allegedly took the photos later sent them to a third firefighter — "a media relations officer who went to the scene and later shared the images with off-duty firefighters and their wives and girlfriends while socializing at an awards ceremony at a Hilton hotel the month after the crash," ESPN reported.
Vanessa's legal team noted that after the fire department's own internal investigation, the two firefighters were sent "intention to discharge" letters because of the photos they allegedly took at the scene, according to TMZ. While the third firefighter, the media relations officer, reportedly received an "intention to suspend" letter.
It's unclear if the firefighters have been fired yet.
In March, a federal judge ruled that the names of four Los Angeles County Sheriff Department deputies who allegedly took and/or shared “unauthorized” photos of the site of Bryant's helicopter crash will be released to Bryant's wife, Vanessa.
U.S. District Judge John F. Walter rejected an effort by Los Angeles County attorneys to keep the deputies' names and ranks sealed, arguing that "hackers may attempt to seek out and gain access to the individual deputies' devices to locate any photographs and publish them," per court documents, obtained by CNN.
"Although the Court recognizes that this case has been the subject of public scrutiny and media attention and that the Deputy Defendants are legitimately concerned that they will encounter vitriol and social media attacks, such concerns, by themselves, are not sufficient to outweigh the public’s strong interest in access," the ruling said, according to a portion posted to Instagram by Vanessa.
The Los Angeles Times noted at the time that the judge's ruling meant Vanessa’s lawyers could "add the deputies’ names and details from the internal affairs investigation about their conduct to an amended complaint in her civil rights lawsuit against the county and the Sheriff’s Department led by Alex Villanueva."
At least eight Sheriff's deputies are accused of taking photos of victims' bodies at the crash site.
Photo: Getty Images