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California governor signs law spurred by Kobe Bryant helicopter crash scene photos

New York Daily News logo New York Daily News 9/29/2020 Nancy Dillon
a person standing on a dry grass field: In this Jan. 27, 2020, file photo released by the National Transportation Safety Board, NTSB investigator Carol Hogan examines wreckage as part of the NTSB's investigation of a helicopter crash near Calabasas, Calif., that killed former NBA basketball player Kobe Bryant, his 13-year-old daughter, Gianna, and seven others. Bryant's widow Vanessa Bryant on Tuesday, Sept. 22, 2020, filed a lawsuit against the Los Angeles County sheriff alleging negligence, invasion of privacy and intentional infliction of emotional distress after deputies allegedly shared unauthorized photos of the crash that killed her husband, their 13-year-old daughter and seven others. © James Anderson In this Jan. 27, 2020, file photo released by the National Transportation Safety Board, NTSB investigator Carol Hogan examines wreckage as part of the NTSB's investigation of a helicopter crash near Calabasas, Calif., that killed former NBA basketball player Kobe Bryant, his 13-year-old daughter, Gianna, and seven others. Bryant's widow Vanessa Bryant on Tuesday, Sept. 22, 2020, filed a lawsuit against the Los Angeles County sheriff alleging negligence, invasion of privacy and intentional infliction of emotional distress after deputies allegedly shared unauthorized photos of the crash that killed her husband, their 13-year-old daughter and seven others.

California Gov. Gavin Newsom has approved a new privacy law stemming from the horrific helicopter crash that killed Lakers legend Kobe Bryant in January.

The bill signed Monday makes it illegal for first responders to take unauthorized photos of deceased people at the scene of an accident or crime.

“Proud to report that my bill, The #KobeBryant Act of 2020, was signed today by @GavinNewsom,” Assemblymember Mike A. Gipson said in a Twitter post.

“(It) will prohibit first responders from taking photos of the deceased outside of job duties,” Gipson, who represents portions of South Los Angeles, said.

The legislation was prompted by reports that eight Los Angeles County Sheriff’s deputies shared graphic photos of the victims of the aviation accident that claimed the NBA superstar, his 13-year-old daughter Gianna and seven others.

Sheriff Alex Villanueva said his agency had a policy against taking and sharing crime scene photos but that it did not apply to accident investigations.

Bryant’s widow, Vanessa, filed a lawsuit last week saying she was physically “ill” over the thought of strangers “gawking” at images showing the bodies of her loved ones.

The beloved basketball player, who was 41, was traveling with Gianna, two other eighth-grade girls and their family members to a youth basketball tournament in Thousand Oaks, Calif., the morning of the Jan. 26 crash.

Their doomed chopper encountered dense fog along the way and crashed, killing all nine people onboard.

Vanessa said she was “devastated and distraught” as she met with Villanueva at the sheriff’s station in Lost Hills that day. She said the sheriff personally assured her “deputies were securing the crash site” as crowds gathered nearby.

LOS ANGELES - JUNE 17: Kobe Bryant #24 of the Los Angeles Lakers celebrates after winning over the Boston Celtics in Game Seven of the 2010 NBA Finals on June 17, 2010 at Staples Center in Los Angeles, California. © Provided by New York Daily News LOS ANGELES - JUNE 17: Kobe Bryant #24 of the Los Angeles Lakers celebrates after winning over the Boston Celtics in Game Seven of the 2010 NBA Finals on June 17, 2010 at Staples Center in Los Angeles, California.

LOS ANGELES - JUNE 17: Kobe Bryant #24 of the Los Angeles Lakers celebrates after winning over the Boston Celtics in Game Seven of the 2010 NBA Finals on June 17, 2010 at Staples Center in Los Angeles, California.

“The biggest threat to the sanctity of the victims' remains proved to be the Sheriff’s Department itself. Faced with a scene of unimaginable loss, no fewer than eight sheriff’s deputies at the crash site pulled out their personal cell phones and snapped photos of the dead children, parents and coaches,” her lawsuit states.

“The deputies took these photos for their own personal gratification,” the paperwork alleges. “One deputy even used his photos of the victims to try to impress a woman at a bar, bragging about how he had been at the crash site.”

“The Sheriff’s Department’s outrageous actions have caused Mrs. Bryant severe emotional distress and compounded the trauma of losing Kobe and Gianna,” her lawsuit states.

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