A new California law making it illegal for first responders to snap unauthorized photos of dead victims at an accident or a crime scene, was signed by Gov. Gavin Newsom on Monday (Sept. 28).
California Assemblymember Mike A. Gipson introduced AB 2655 (a.k.a. “Kobe Bryant’s Law”) in response to eight Los Angeles Sheriff’s Department deputies reportedly snapping and sharing photos at the January plane crash site that killed Bryant, his young daughter, and eight others.
“Like many others, I was mortified after I’d heard that first responders captured and shared unauthorized photos from the scene of the helicopter crash that killed Kobe and Gianna Bryant, Payton Chester, Sarah Chester, Alyssa Altobelli, Keri Altobelli, John Altobelli, Christina Mauser, and Ara Zobayan,” Gipson shared in a statement. “AB 2655 ensures that those who are trusted to secure scenes of great disaster and death are not abusing their power for personal pleasure or profit, and the privacy and dignity of the deceased and those closest to them is not to be toyed with – it must be protected. Loved ones should not be subjected to painful photos as they grieve their unimaginable loss.”
— Asm. Mike A. Gipson (@AsmMikeGipson) September 29, 2020
Vanessa Bryant is suing the department over the “gratuitous images” that “soon became talked about within the department, as deputies displayed them to colleagues in settings that had nothing to do with investigating the accident,” according to her complaint filed in a Los Angeles Superior Court last week.
The lawsuit alleges that one LASD deputy even used the gruesome photos to “impress a woman at a bar, bragging about how he had been at the crash site.” LASD Alex Villanueva assured the grieving widow that the photos would not get out, according to her legal documents.
A.B. 2655 makes it a misdemeanor offense to share graphic unauthorized images punishable by fines of up to $1,000. The measure, co-sponsored by the LASD, will go into effect in January 2021.