LA County Sheriff's Department responds to claims deputies shared photos of Kobe Bryant crash site

CALABASAS, Calif. (KABC) -- The Los Angeles County Sheriff's Department has released a statement in response to claims that deputies shared graphic photos of the helicopter crash that killed Kobe Bryant and eight others last month.

Officials released the following statement Friday afternoon:

The Sheriff's Department is aware of recent media reports alleging deputies shared images from the January 26th, 2020 helicopter crash, which tragically claimed the lives of nine people. The facts surrounding these allegations are currently under investigation, as are the effectiveness of existing policies and procedures. The Sheriff is deeply disturbed at the thought deputies could allegedly engage in such an insensitive act. A thorough investigation will be conducted by the Department, with the number one priority of protecting the dignity and privacy of the victims and their families.

It's not yet clear who was involved, how widely the photos were disseminated or if the deputies took the images at the crash site in Calabasas.

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The National Transportation Safety Board has not released its final report, but investigators believe poor weather conditions and pilot error are likely causes of the crash.

A preliminary report from the agency released earlier this month stated there was no evidence of engine failure in the helicopter crash.

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A public memorial for Kobe and Gianna was held last week at Staples Center, where tens of thousands of fans packed into "The House That Kobe Built" to hear from his widow Vanessa, NBA legend Michael Jordan, Lakers great Shaquille O'Neal and others close to Kobe.

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Kobe and Gianna were buried Feb. 7 in a private ceremony in Corona del Mar, according to death certificates released by Los Angeles County officials.

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