A judge has upheld the firing of a police officer who distributed an evidence photo showing injuries singer Rihanna sustained after she was attacked by then boyfriend Chris Brown. The photo found its way onto the celebrity website TMZ, the Associated Press reports.
Former Los Angeles police officer Rebecca Reyes took a picture of an evidence photo but told a judge Thursday that she didn't send it to the gossip site and had only taken the photo show to other officers and acquaintances, court filings state.
Superior Court Judge Luis A. Lavin agreed with a disciplinary panel and Police Chief Charlie Beck to fire Reyes in 2012. Lavin also concluded that evidence supports Reyes's having "participated in the release of the photography showing Ms. Fenty's injuries to TMZ."
"At a minimum, the public is entitled to protection from unprofessional employees whose conduct places people at risk of injury and the government at risk of incurring liability," Lavin wrote in his ruling, AP reports.
After the hearing, Reyes's attorney Ira Salzman told AP that he was disappointed by the ruling and reiterated that his client did not leak the image to TMZ. He disagreed with Lavin's descriptions of his client as unprofessional, saying she "made a singular mistake."
"Rebecca Reyes is an outstanding person and was an outstanding officer," Salzman said.
In the hours after the Rihanna attack, at her precinct Reyes saw an evidence photo of the singer that showed injuries. Reyes snapped a photo of the image to share with others, including a former girlfriend, who records show called TMZ.
The ex-girlfriend Blanca Lopez, who is also a Los Angeles police officer, told investigators she called the celebrity news site only to verify the attack details that Reyes had shared with her.
Both women were investigated for their actions, but search warrants found no evidence of payments to either woman by TMZ; nor was there conclusive proof of who gave the image to the site, AP reports.
Salzman told AP that Lopez remains on the force, and the person who leaked the photo "has never been found and never will be."
Read more at the Associated Press.