REPORT: News outlet blasted by police for breaking news of Kobe Bryant’s death before family could be notified

JANUARY 27, 2020

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Law enforcement officials in Los Angeles have criticized the celebrity news outlet TMZ for being the first to report of the helicopter crash that killed Kobe Bryant and his 13-year-old daughter on Sunday, before police were able to notify his family of the tragedy.

According to CNN, Los Angeles County Sheriff Alex Villanueva knocked the news outlet at a press conference while explaining why officials didn’t release the identities of the nine people killed in the crash earlier in the day.

The article goes on to state the following:

“It would be extremely disrespectful to understand that your loved one … perished and you learn about it from TMZ,” he said. “That is just wholly inappropriate.”

Los Angeles County Undersheriff Tim Murakami ‏also posted a scathing rebuke on Twitter, writing, “I am saddened that I was gathering facts as a media outlet reported the Kobe had passed. I understand getting the scoop but please allow us time to make personal notifications to their loved ones. It’s very cold to hear of the loss via media Breaks my heart.”

One Twitter user asked, “How did these media outlets find out who was on board though to begin with?”

Murakami responded, “Unknown leak. They pushed out Kobe’s name as I was still making verification he was on board with his daughter. I think someone leaked flight manifest.”

Another Twitter user questioned, “When there is a crash, isn’t it typical to gather the NoK together even if it hasn’t been ascertained whether they have perished in crash? Should be protocol. No family have to wait hrs for a coroner. With celebs news will get out, it should’ve been handled better sorry.”

“We notify next of kin as soon as possible. We only await Coroner for official ID. We would send an officer to personally notify next of kin and offer support,” Murakami replied.

“Sorry for the misunderstanding and we are aware that this was noteworthy but we normally work with media to allow us to advise the family first We don’t expect a 12 hr wait, just time to make personal notifications,” Murakami added.

Murakami further noted that the media didn’t even get it right. Multiple media outlets were misreporting the number of people on board and how many of Kobe Bryant’s children were traveling with him.

Murakami wrote, “They didn’t report facts. Initial reports were in error regarding number of victims. They reported unconfirmed reports of Kobes passing which wasn’t verified.”

ABC News reported that emergency workers were seen at the crash site on Monday, where former NBA star Kobe Bryant and his daughter died.

ABC News also shared a video of a tribute in Los Angeles, explaining, “A light display at LAX was lit purple and gold to honor Lakers legend Kobe Bryant, in one of many tributes around the world. Bryant and his 13-year-old daughter Gianna were among nine people who died in a helicopter crash on Sunday.”

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