- The basketball icon Kobe Bryant died at the age of 41 in a helicopter crash on Sunday in Calabasas, California.
- The shocking news was first reported by the celebrity-gossip site TMZ.
- Los Angeles authorities later slammed the outlet for reporting the fatal accident before they could alert the victims’ families.
- Visit Insider’s homepage for more.
News that the basketball icon Kobe Bryant died in a helicopter crash in Calabasas, California, stunned the world Sunday after it was first reported by TMZ.
But the outlet, which is known for its celebrity gossip and breaking-news scoops, was later called out by police officers who suggested it broke the story before authorities could contact the families of the victims.
During a press conference after the crash, Los Angeles County Sheriff Alex Villanueva mentioned the website while telling reporters he was not yet confirming the identities of the victims of the crash.
“There was wide speculation as to who their identities are; however, it would be entirely inappropriate right now to identify anyone by name, until the coroner has made the identification through their very deliberative process and until they’ve made notifications to next of kin,” Villanueva said.
“It would be extremely disrespectful to understand that your loved ones perished and you learned about it from TMZ,” he added. “That is just wholly inappropriate. So we’re not going to be going there.”
Los Angeles County Undersheriff Tim Murakami posted on Twitter to slam the site.
“I am saddened that I was gathering facts as a media outlet reported Kobe had passed,” Murakami wrote. “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.”
The site did not publicly respond to the officers’ jabs and did not immediately respond to a request for comment from Insider.
The Los Angeles-based site has a yearslong history of being the first to report surprising celebrity deaths, recently including the rappers Juice Wrld and XXXTentacion. A 2016 profile by The New Yorker examined the outlet’s networks of tipsters, detailing an elaborate web of industry insiders who keep in close contact with the site’s authors.