The allegations were first reported by The Los Angeles Times, which cited two “public safety sources,” one of whom had seen one of the photos on another official’s phone in a setting that was unrelated to the investigation. The paper also reported that some of the photos showed victims’ remains. It was not clear how the photos were disseminated, and who had taken them.
The Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department said in a statement on Sunday that “the facts surrounding these allegations are currently under investigation, as are the effectiveness of existing policies and procedures.”
The statement added that Sheriff Alex Villanueva was “deeply disturbed at the thought deputies could allegedly engage in such an insensitive act.
Mr. Bryant, 41, the retired Los Angeles Lakers star, was killed along with his daughter Gianna and seven others when the helicopter that was carrying them to a youth basketball tournament crashed into a hillside near Calabasas, Calif., on Jan. 26.
Gary C. Robb, the lawyer for Mr. Bryant’s widow, Vanessa Bryant, said in a statement that she went to the sheriff’s office on the day of the crash “and requested that the area be designated a no fly-zone and protected from photographers.”
Mr. Robb added that “this was of critical importance to her as she desired to protect the dignity of all the victims, and their families.”
“At that time,” he said, “Sheriff Alex Villanueva assured us all measures would be put in place to protect the families’ privacy, and it is our understanding that he has worked hard to honor those requests.”
Mr. Robb also said in his statement that the sharing of the photos “is an unspeakable violation of human decency, respect and of the privacy rights of the victims and their families.”