COPS allegedly tried to cover up the leaked Kobe Bryant helicopter crash photo scandal – DAYS after the tragedy killed nine people.
The Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department deputies linked to showing off crash-scene photos in a California bar were told they wouldn't get in trouble if they deleted the pictures, according to a report.
Public safety sources told the Los Angeles Times the deputies were told they'd be let off the hook if they came clean at the station and deleted the disturbing pictures – which could amount to the destruction of evidence.
The Times' damning report prompted an investigation by the Sheriff’s Department after the crash site photos were allegedly used by an LA cop to impress a girl at a bar following the fatal crash.
Patti Giggans, chairwoman of the sheriff’s department’s Civilian Oversight Commission, said the incident was “completely unprofessional” and “very regrettable.”
The commission's Executive Director Brian Williams told the Times his office were going to grill the sheriff’s department officials about it next week.
In a statement issued on Friday, Sheriff Alex Villanueva’s department said it was “deeply disturbed” by the alleged misuse of the photos, promising “a thorough investigation.”
Villanueva didn't comment two days ago when he was quizzed about whether he ordered the deletion of the photos, the Times reported.
The news of an alleged cover-up emerged after a number of LA County Sheriff's deputies took graphic photos at the crash scene that included remains, TMZ reported.
One of them had "tried to impress a girl by showing her the photos," one of the law enforcement sources told the publication.
The outlet was informed that an online complaint was filed with the Sheriff's Department after the bartender listened in on the conversation.
TMZ was also told the images circulated among members of the LA County Fire Department and the Lost Hills Sheriff's substation, who were first on scene.
Images of the 41-year-old NBA legend and the eight other victims' remains were reportedly shared just two days after the tragedy on January 26, sources also told the Times.
The LA-based publication reported two public safety sources claimed the deputies shared graphic photos of the crash.
One of the unidentified sources allegedly said he saw one of the images on an official's phone, at a time and place that was unrelated to the crash investigation.
It is unknown how far the photos have reached and who took them.
A teacher of police procedures at John Jay College of Criminal Justice in New York, Joseph Giacalone, said sharing unauthorized photos “is a cardinal sin in law enforcement," the newspaper reported.
A spokesman for the sheriff’s department, Capt. Jorge Valdez, said police had contacted the victims’ families after the newspaper’s inquiries.
Kobe and his 13-year-old daughter were buried two weeks after they tragically died in a helicopter crash alongside seven others as the group was headed to Kobe's Mamba Sports Academy training facility.
The others killed were college baseball coach John Altobelli, his wife Keri, and their daughter Alyssa, Christina Mauser, a coach at Mamba Sports Academy, passengers Sarah and Payton Chester and pilot Zobayan.
The Sikorsky-76 chopper came down in fog in the Calabasas mountains northwest of Los Angeles.
Kobe is survived by his wife Vanessa Bryant and their three daughters Natalia Diamante, 17, Bianka Bella, 3, and Capri Kobe, 7 months.
A month after the deadly crash, Vanessa, 37, reportedly claimed the helicopter shouldn't have been put in such dangerous conditions before the aircraft's death plunge.
Vanessa hit the chopper company with a lawsuit for "reckless" flying.
In the weeks leading up to the lawsuit and memorial Vanessa had opened up about her family's grief after losing Kobe and Gianna.
[bc_video video_id="6126724892001" account_id="5067014667001" player_id="pV1KxHf2t" embed="in-page" padding_top="56%" autoplay="" min_width="0px" max_width="640px" mute="" width="100%" height="100%"caption="Emergency workers inspect the debris at the crash site of Kobe Bryant’s helicopter "]
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