On Monday, California Gov. Gavin Newsom (D) approved a bill that makes it illegal for first responders to take unauthorized pictures of deceased people at crime and accident scenes. The bill was prompted by the helicopter crash that killed Kobe Bryant, his daughter Gianna, and seven others.
Shortly after the Jan. 26 crash, reports emerged that some of the first responders had taken graphic photos of the crash scene and were sharing them, according to the Associated Press. At the time, Los Angeles Sheriff Alex Villanueva said eight deputies were accused of either taking or sharing the photos and that he ordered the photos to be deleted. He added that while the department had policies against unauthorized crime scene photos, there was not one in place for accident scenes.
In response to the incident, assemblyman Mike Gipson introduced AB 2655 earlier this year. Gipson sent out a tweet celebrating the bill’s passage, calling it “The Kobe Bryant Act of 2020.”
— Asm. Mike A. Gipson (@AsmMikeGipson) September 29, 2020
Vanessa Bryant, Bryant’s widow, filed a lawsuit against Villanueva and the Los Angeles County Sheriff’s county earlier this month for sharing the pictures. At the time of the crash, the family was gathered at the sheriff’s office and assured the crash site was locked down, according to CNN.
“The biggest threat to the sanctity of the victims’ remains proved to be the Sheriff’s department itself,” as eight deputies “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,” the lawsuit states.
The law, which makes taking such photos a misdemeanor punishable by a fine up to $1,000, goes into effect on Jan. 1.