California approves new law prompted by helicopter crash that killed Kobe Bryant

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Governor Gavin Newsom has approved new legislation prompted by the helicopter crash that killed Kobe Bryant and eight other people, including his daughter Gianna in Calabasas, California earlier this year.

The bill signed Monday, September 28 makes it a crime for first responders to take unauthorized photos of deceased people at the scene of an accident or crime.

Los Angeles County Sheriff Alex Villanueva said the department has a policy against taking and sharing crime scene photos, but it does not apply to accident scenes. Kobe’s widow Vanessa Bryant has sued the sheriff in a lawsuit seeking damages for negligence, invasion of privacy and intentional infliction of emotional distress after graphic photos of the victims were being shared by eight deputies. In March, she said she was “absolutely devastated” by allegations that deputies shared the graphic photos.

“This lawsuit is about accountability and about preventing this disgraceful behavior from happening to other families in the future who have suffered loss,” Vanessa Bryant’s attorney, Luis Li, said in a statement. “The department formally refused Mrs. Bryant’s requests for information saying it was ‘unable to assist’ with any inquiry and had no legal obligation to do so,” Li wrote. “It’s now for a court to tell the department what its obligations are.”

The measure that will take effect January 1, 2021, makes it a misdemeanor with fines up to $1,000 per offense to take such photos for anything other than an official law enforcement purpose.