Los Angeles County Sheriff Alex Villanueva has said eight deputies have admitted possessing photos of Kobe Bryant’s helicopter crash site.
The sheriff said he was “devastated and heartbroken” by the conduct of those responsible.
He told media on March 2 that the deputies involved had deleted the images on his direction.
Kobe Bryant and his 13-year-old daughter Gianna were among nine who died in the crash on January 26.
The basketball legend was a five-time NBA champion for his only team, the Los Angeles Lakers, and a double Olympic gold medalist. After a 20-year career with the team Kobe Bryant retired in April 2016.
The circulation of photos from the crash site and victims’ remains was first reported by the Los Angeles Times last week.
In response to the report, Vanessa Bryant, Kobe’s wife, said she was “absolutely devastated” by the “inexcusable and deplorable” actions of first responders.
A lawyer for Vanessa Bryant said Alex Villanueva had assured her that “all measures would be put in place to protect the families’ privacy”.
The lawyer’s statement said: “This is an unspeakable violation of human decency, respect, and of the privacy rights of the victims and their families.
“We are demanding that those responsible for these alleged actions face the harshest possible discipline, and that their identities be brought to light, to ensure that the photos are not further disseminated.”
In an interview with NBC News, Sheriff Villanueva said the photos were brought to his attention by someone who had overheard a trainee deputy discussing them at a bar.
He said: “That was my number one priority, to make sure those photos no longer exist.
“We identified the deputies involved, they came to the station on their own and had admitted they had taken them and they had deleted them. And we’re content that those involved did that.”
He also told KABC-TV that the deputies were under investigation and could face disciplinary action.
Only personnel from the National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) and the coroner’s office were authorized to take photos of the crash scene, Alex Villanueva said.
According to NBC News, at least two LA County Fire Department firefighters also took photos and were ordered to delete them.
The cause of the crash in foggy weather west of Los Angeles, California, is still being investigated.
Kobe Bryant was on his way to coach his daughter Gianna’s basketball team in a local youth tournament at the Mamba Sports Academy.
Lawyers for Vanessa Bryant have filed a lawsuit against the company that operated the helicopter, accusing the pilot of negligence.