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Police scold TMZ after outlet reports on Kobe Bryant's death early

Investigating crash that killed Kobe Bryant
Investigating crash that killed Kobe Bryant 06:47

The Los Angeles Police department criticized TMZ for quickly reporting on the death of NBA legend Kobe Bryant, his daughter and seven others on Sunday. TMZ published their story, first breaking the news that Bryant died at 11:24 a.m. Pacific time. 

At that time, Los Angeles police officers were working on notifying family members of victims and they are upset TMZ may have beat them to the punch by making the news public. 

"There is wide speculation who the identities are," Los Angeles County Sheriff Alex Villanueva said during a press conference on Sunday. "It is entirely inappropriate right now to identify anyone by name until the coroner has made the identifications through their deliberate process and made notifications to next of kin."

Kobe Bryant Reportedly Killed In Helicopter Crash In Calabasas Hills
In this handout photo provided by the Los Angeles Sheriff'ss Department, emergency crews respond to a helicopter crash that reportedly killed former NBA player Kobe Bryant on January 26, 2020 in Calabasas, California.  LASD via Getty Images

"It would be extremely disrespectful to understand that your loved one has perished and you learn about it from TMZ," Villanueva continued. He called TMZ's practice of revealing victims' names "just wholly inappropriate."

Shortly after TMZ reported that Bryant died, they updated their story to say his 13-year-old daughter, Gianna "Gigi" Bryant was also a victim of the crash. In total, nine people were killed when the chopper crashed into a hillside in Calabasas, California.

The passengers were on their way to a basketball game when the chopper went down. The helicopter was flying in foggy conditions considered dangerous enough that local police agencies grounded their choppers.

As events unfolded Sunday, TMZ continued to update their timeline of the story, adding dispatch audio and tributes to Bryant to their web article. At 2:40 p.m. Pacific time, TMZ added to their story that there were nine victims – one pilot and eight passengers.

Around 5:00 p.m. Pacific Time, TMZ updated their story with a victim's name – Christina Mauser.

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