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'Kobe Bryant Bill' Makes It A Crime For First Responders To Photograph Dead Bodies

Shortly after the helicopter crash that killed NBA legend Kobe Bryant, his daughter Gianna, and seven others, reports surfaced that gruesome photos of the crash scene were being shared online.

Those photos, said to contain images of mangled bodies, were allegedly taken by some of the first responders to arrive at the accident scene.

So, a California lawmaker proposed a bill that would make it a misdemeanor for any first responder to take unauthorized photos of the dead bodies. The bill was approved unanimously by both houses of the California legislature, and on Monday Gov. Gavin Newsom signed it into law.

"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," Assemblyman Mike Gipson, who drafted the law, said in a statement when the bill went to Newsom's desk.

"The actions of the first responders involved were unacceptable, and they highlighted a problem that demands a strong remedy."

The penalty is $1,000 per offense.

Newsom's signature comes just weeks after Bryant's widow, Vanessa Bryant, sued the Los Angeles County sheriff, alleging that its deputies shared unauthorized photos of the crash.

The lawsuit says Bryant was "shocked and devastated" by reports of the photos. "Mrs. Bryant feels ill at the thought of strangers gawking at images of her deceased husband and child and she lives in fear that she or her children will one day confront horrific images of their loved ones online," the suit says, according to The Associated Press.

She's seeking damages for negligence, invasion of privacy, and intentional infliction of emotional distress.

"This lawsuit is about accountability and about preventing this disgraceful behavior from happening to other families in the future who have suffered loss," Bryant's attorney, Luis Li, said in a statement.

Copyright 2021 NPR. To see more, visit https://www.npr.org.

Matthew S. Schwartz is a reporter with NPR's news desk. Before coming to NPR, Schwartz worked as a reporter for Washington, DC, member station WAMU, where he won the national Edward R. Murrow award for feature reporting in large market radio. Previously, Schwartz worked as a technology reporter covering the intricacies of Internet regulation. In a past life, Schwartz was a Washington telecom lawyer. He got his J.D. from Georgetown University Law Center, and his B.A. from the University of Michigan ("Go Blue!").