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Firefighters who took and shared photographs of Kobe Bryant crash website may very well be fired, per court docket paperwork

LOS ANGELES — Two Los Angeles County firefighters may very well be fired and a 3rd suspended after some first responders took and shared graphic photographs from the positioning of the helicopter crash that killed Kobe Bryant, his teenage daughter and 7 others, court docket paperwork say.

The court docket paperwork have been filed Monday as a part of widow Vanessa Bryant’s federal lawsuit in opposition to Los Angeles County that alleges invasion of privateness. The filings suggest {that a} Nov. 16 trial be postponed 5 months to April 27, 2022, due to a considerable amount of materials that attorneys must overview.

Kobe Bryant and the others have been killed Jan. 26, 2020, when the helicopter they have been aboard crashed west of Los Angeles. Federal security officers blamed pilot error for the wreck that killed the Los Angeles Lakers basketball star.

An inner investigation by the Los Angeles County Fireplace Division discovered that two firefighters — whose names weren’t disclosed within the court docket filings — had taken photographs of the our bodies within the helicopter wreckage that “served no enterprise necessity,” Vanessa Bryant’s attorneys wrote, and “solely served to enchantment to baser instincts and wishes for what amounted to visible gossip.”

They then despatched the photographs to a 3rd firefighter — a media relations officer who went to the scene and later shared the pictures with off-duty firefighters and their wives and girlfriends whereas socializing at an awards ceremony at a Hilton resort the month after the crash.

The 2 firefighters — considered one of whom was on the website solely to watch security procedures — have been despatched “intention to discharge” letters final December. The third firefighter obtained an “intention to droop” letter. The employment standing of all three was not instantly clear Wednesday.

Los Angeles County attorneys have argued that there isn’t a authorized foundation for Vanessa Bryant’s lawsuit as a result of the photographs weren’t publicly disseminated. She will’t sue for a “hypothetical hurt” that they could be shared publicly, the county stated in filings.

Capt. Ron Haralson, a spokesperson for the county fireplace division, declined to remark, citing the lawsuit.

A number of Los Angeles County sheriff’s deputies — none of whom have been instantly concerned within the investigation of the crash — are additionally included within the lawsuit as a result of they’re accused of taking or passing across the grisly photographs with household, pals and, in a single case, a bar patron and a bartender who later complained to the sheriff’s division.

Sheriff Alex Villanueva condemned the deputies’ habits and, in a transfer that has since been closely criticized, ordered them to delete the photographs. The captain of the Malibu/Misplaced Hills sheriff’s station, which oversees the world the place the crash occurred, pushed again on the choice however was overruled.

The Sheriff’s Division stated Wednesday that “a full administrative investigation was carried out and acceptable administrative motion was taken.” But it surely could not present particulars about self-discipline involving the deputies due to a pending lawsuit and state employment legislation that bars disclosing “particular administrative actions.”

Gov. Gavin Newsom final yr signed a legislation that makes it a criminal offense for first responders to take unauthorized photographs of deceased individuals on the scene of an accident or crime.

Representatives from the union that represents firefighters didn’t instantly reply to The Related Press’ request for remark Wednesday.

The firefighter who obtained the photographs and shared them with others was not named in court docket paperwork, however the Los Angeles Occasions has reported that Capt. Tony Imbrenda filed a retaliation lawsuit in November. Imbrenda alleged he was demoted for refusing at hand over his private cellphone in the course of the investigation into the photographs, which he stated was a violation of the Firefighter Invoice of Rights.

Imbrenda did, nevertheless, hand over his division cellphone and laptop computer, the Occasions reported. His lawsuit says he obtained photographs from individuals working on the crash website “as is widespread apply on all main incidents.”

He took his personal photographs the following day, the Occasions reported, however denied taking photographs of the victims’ our bodies and stated he didn’t take photographs together with his private cellphone.

Imbrenda didn’t reply to a request for remark Wednesday.

The Related Press contributed to this report.

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