New California law prompted by crash that killed Kobe Bryant, 8 others

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FILE – In this Jan. 26, 2020, file photo, a body is covered, left, while another is seen at right at the scene of a helicopter crash that killed former NBA basketball player Kobe Bryant and eight others in Calabasas, Calif. Gov. Gavin Newsom has approved legislation prompted by the helicopter crash that killed Kobe Bryant and eight others. The bill he signed Monday, Sept. 28, 2020, makes it a crime for first responders to take unauthorized photos of deceased people at the scene of an accident or crime. (AP Photo/Mark J. Terrill, File)

SACRAMENTO, Calif. (NewsNation Now) — Gov. Gavin Newsom on Monday approved legislation prompted by the helicopter crash that killed Kobe Bryant and eight other people that makes it a crime for first responders to take unauthorized photos of deceased people at the scene of an accident or crime.

Reports surfaced after the Jan. 26 crash that killed Bryant, his daughter Gianna and the others that graphic photos of the victims were being shared.

Eight deputies were accused of taking or sharing graphic photos of the scene, Los Angeles County Sheriff Alex Villanueva said then, adding that he had ordered the images deleted. He said the department has a policy against taking and sharing crime scene photos, but it did not apply to accident scenes.

The measure that will take effect Jan. 1 makes it a misdemeanor with fines up to $1,000 per offense to take such photos for anything other than an official law enforcement purpose.

Villanueva praised the legislation in tweets following the singing of AB 2655.

Bryant’s widow, Vanessa Bryant, has sued the department over the photos.

“This lawsuit is about accountability and about preventing this disgraceful behavior from happening to other families in the future who have suffered loss,” Vanessa Bryant’s attorney, Luis Li, said in a statement.

“The department formally refused Mrs. Bryant’s requests for information saying it was ‘unable to assist’ with any inquiry and had no legal obligation to do so,” Li wrote. “It’s now for a court to tell the department what its obligations are.”

Vanessa Bryant also criticized the department for challenging Lakers star, Lebron James, to match a reward offered in the deputy ambush shooting in Compton in early September.

The Associated Press contributed to the report.

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