California lawmakers are introducing a bill that would make it a crime for first responders to share pictures of bodies taken at crime scenes for anything other than investigatory use.
The bill is called “Invasion of Privacy: First Responders” and it was introduced by Assemblyman Mike Gipson. It’s currently being reviewed by the Assembly’s Public Safety Committee. If it becomes law, the charge for going against the law would carry a maximum punishment of one year in jail and a $5,000 fine.
Back in March, Los Angeles County Sheriff Alex Villanueva ordered various deputies who took gruesome photos of the crash site to delete the pictures from their personal devices. First responders from the department allegedly took the photos of bodies and then shared them amongst colleagues and the wider public.
“We’ve communicated in no uncertain terms that the behavior is inexcusable,” Villanueva said. “I mean, people are grieving for the loss of their loved ones. To have that on top of what they’ve already gone through is unconscionable. And, to think any member of our department would be involved in that.” It’s not certain whether the deputies involved were punished.
“This is an unspeakable violation of human decency, respect, and of the privacy rights of the victims and their families,” Vanessa Bryant’s attorney, Gary C. Robb, explained in a statement in March. “We are demanding that those responsible for these alleged actions face the harshest possible discipline and that their identities be brought to light, to ensure that the photos are not further disseminated.”
The Bryants and seven other people were killed on January 26 when a helicopter they were flying in crashed in Calabasas, about 30 miles northwest of downtown Los Angeles. Vanessa Bryant and other family members to the victims are suing the helicopter company in separate lawsuits.
In Vanessa’s wrongful death lawsuit filed in February, she accused the pilot of the helicopter of carelessness and negligence when flying in cloudy conditions on January 26. According to ESPN, her lawsuit argues that he should have aborted the flight that killed the nine people on board. The pilot was one of the nine who died. Island Express Helicopters Inc. is named in the lawsuit along with pilot Ara Zobayan‘s representative or successor, listed only as “Doe 1” until a name can be confirmed.