SACRAMENTO, Calif (Sept. 29, 2020) --- Assembly Bill 2655 by Assemblymember Mike A. Gipson (D-Carson) was signed by Governor Gavin Newsom making it a misdemeanor for a first responder assisting at the scene of an accident or crime to take unauthorized photos of the deceased.
At the January 26 helicopter crash that killed Kobe Bryant, his 13-year-old daughter Gianna and seven others, graphic images of their remains were shared by first responders for personal pleasure and in settings that had nothing to do with the investigation.
“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 that killed Kobe and Gianna Bryant, Payton Chester, Sarah Chester, Alyssa Altobelli, Keri Altobelli, John Altobelli, Christina Mauser, and Ara Zobayan,” said Assemblymember Mike A. Gipson. “AB 2655 ensures that those who are trusted to secure scenes of great disaster and death are not abusing their power for personal pleasure or profit, and the privacy and dignity of the deceased and those closest to them is not to be toyed with - it must be protected. Loved ones should not be subjected to painful photos as they grieve their unimaginable loss.”
Previous law allowed for a reasonable amount of privacy for deceased persons regarding photos reproduced by a coroner or during an autopsy, but did not prohibit first responders from capturing the image of a deceased person for any purpose. The bill states that any first responder in violation could face a misdemeanor penalty with fines of up to $1000 per offense.
The bill was sponsored by the Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department.