LOS ANGELES (CNS) - Authorities Friday were investigating reports that Los Angeles County sheriff's deputies and county firefighters shared graphic images of victims' remains and the scene of the helicopter crash that killed Kobe Bryant and eight others.
Neither the sheriff's department nor the county fire department had any immediate comment on the reports that were published on TMZ.com and in the Los Angeles Times.
"We're told the gruesome photos were also passed around by members of the L.A. County Fire Dept. and we're told that department is now investigating," TMZ reported Friday morning.
"Law enforcement sources tell TMZ, multiple L.A. County Sheriff's deputies who responded to the crash scene took photos that included remains. We're told one of the deputies -- a trainee -- took photos and at some point went to a bar and, as one source put it, `He tried to impress a girl by showing her the photos.' We're told the bartender overheard the conversation and filed an online complaint with the Sheriff's Dept.
"We're also told the cell phone photos were passed around at the Lost Hills Sheriff's substation -- the first responders to the crash. Sources say deputies from other substations around L.A. County also took cell phone photos."
A sheriff's department official earlier told the Los Angeles Times the "matter is being looked into."
It's unclear how many people saw or received the photos without authorization or whether the deputies had taken the photos at the scene or received them from someone else, according to The Times, who spoke with two public safety sources with knowledge of the events.
The sharing of photos of the crash scene and the victims' remains was the topic of a discussion among first responders two days after the crash, a public safety source with knowledge of the events told The Times. The source said he saw one of the photos in a setting separate from the crash's investigation.
The sheriff's department and other Los Angeles-area law enforcement agencies have struggled with keeping confidential information in high-profile cases from being shared in the past.
Bryant's helicopter crashed into a Calabasas hillside on Jan. 26.