There's Now a New Law Inspired by the Kobe Bryant Tragedy
This new legislation comes after Vanessa Bryant took legal action against the LAPD.
It's been eight months since the death of Kobe Bryant. The NBA star; his 13-year-old daughter, Gianna Bryant; and seven others were killed in a helicopter crash on Jan. 26 in the foggy hills of Calabasas, California, en route to a girls' basketball game. Following the highly publicized crash, the Los Angeles Times reported that explicit photos of the victims were being shared. Eight responders on the scene were accused of taking and disseminating the graphic images. And now, the tragedy has prompted new legislation to protect the privacy of crash victims and their families. According to the Associated Press (AP), the new law approved by California Gov. Gavin Newsom on Sept. 28 "makes it a crime for first responders to take unauthorized pictures of deceased people at the scene of an accident or crime."
Los Angeles County Sheriff Alex Villanueva told the AP that the first responders were promptly asked to delete the photos from Bryant's crash. However, the Los Angeles Times reports that the LAPD did not pursue any disciplinary action or investigation. Villanueva said the police department has a strict policy about taking and distributing photos from crime scenes, but the policy did not apply to accident scenes specifically.
Villanueva allegedly assured Bryant's widow, Vanessa Bryant, that the crash site would be secured to maintain the family's privacy, but after the Los Angeles Times exposed the LAPD, Bryant pursued legal action.
Her lawsuit claims "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. The deputies took these photos for their own personal gratification," according to the LA Times.
"This lawsuit is about accountability and about preventing this disgraceful behavior from happening to other families in the future who have suffered loss," Bryant's lead attorney, Luis Li, told the LA Times.
The AP reports that the new legislation will take effect on Jan. 1, 2021. Once the law is in place, taking explicit photos at an accident or crime scene for anything other than official law enforcement use will be a considered a misdemeanor, the charges for which could include fines of up to $1,000 per offense.