California Enacts Law Preventing Unauthorized Photos at Crime and Accident Scenes
SACRAMENTO, CA- California entered a new law this week in response to the crash that killed Kobe Bryant earlier this year, stating that first responders will no longer be able to taken unauthorized photos of deceased persons at crime or accident scenes. In January of 2020, Kobe Bryant and eight other individuals died in a tragic helicopter crash. First responders who arrived on the scene took photos of the victims.*
Those photos, which included graphic images of Bryant, his daughter, and the other victims, are surfacing and being shared. Reports indicate eight of the responding deputies had the photos on their devices, and upon learning of the images, the Sheriff directed the responders to delete those photos. While the Department already had a policy that prevented officers from photographing crime scenes, that policy did not prevent such photos from being taken at the scenes of accidents.
The law takes effect early in 2021, and anyone violating that law will face significant fines for each offense.
Kobe Bryant's widow filed a lawsuit against the Sheriff's Office regarding the photographs. The lawsuit alleges that at least eight deputies took photos for their own "gratification" and not for official purposes. Based on the complaint, one of the deputies even showed the horrific crash photos at a bar. Reports state that the deputies were told they would not face disciplinary action if they simply deleted the photos from their devices. According to some legal experts, the move to delete the photos could be viewed as the destruction of evidence. It is possible that some of the photos made their way onto the internet. The Sheriff claimed that the Department properly handled the incident considering the taking of the photographs was not a criminal act at the time.
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