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Firefighters who photographed Kobe Bryant crash scene to be fired -court filing

·2-min read
People stop by a mural of late Kobe Bryant, who perished one year ago alongside his daughter and seven others when their helicopter crashed into a hillside, in Los Angeles

(Reuters) - Two Los Angeles County firefighters accused of taking pictures of Kobe Bryant's helicopter crash scene have been notified that they would be fired and a third was given a suspension notice, according to a filing in a lawsuit brought by his widow.

Bryant, 41, a retired, 18-time all-star for the National Basketball Association's Los Angeles Lakers, was killed along with his 13-year-old daughter, Gianna, and all seven others aboard a helicopter that crashed in foggy weather north of Los Angeles on Jan. 26, 2020.

His widow, Vanessa Bryant, sued Los Angeles County following media reports that first responders took pictures of the victims and showed them to other people in situations unrelated to the crash investigation.

Bryant first sued the Sheriff's Department, alleging deputies used their personal cellphones to take pictures of the dead "for their own personal gratification." The suit was later amended to add the county fire department, accusing firefighters of similar acts.

A filing in the lawsuit, dated Monday and reported by NBC News on Wednesday, makes reference to fire department investigation reports sent to the three disciplined firefighters last year.

"The letters announce an 'intention to discharge' two of the recipients and an 'intention to suspend' the third," said the document that Bryant's lawyers filed in U.S. District Court for the Central District of California.

The filing said it only referenced the letters, rather than attach them as exhibits, to respect privacy concerns raised by the defendants and to avoid further paperwork.

The fire department did not immediately respond to a Reuters request for comment. NBC News said a spokesman for the department declined to comment because litigation was pending and he could not confirm whether the firefighters were fired or suspended.

Vanessa Bryant has also filed a wrongful death lawsuit against the operator of the helicopter.

(Reporting by Daniel Trotta; Editing by Peter Cooney)