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Police Scold TMZ For Reporting Kobe Bryant's Death Before His Family Knew

Yesterday, the world was shocked and saddened to learn that basketball legend Kobe Bryant had lost his life at 41-years-old in a Calabasas, California helicopter crash.

As BBC reported, there were no survivors from the crash that left nine dead. Other than the fact that the weather was foggy at the time, details as to the cause of the crash have yet to be determined.

But what we did know at the time was the extent of the tragic consequences for the Bryant family. And as far as the Los Angeles County Sheriff's Office is concerned, there's something seriously wrong with the speed at which we learned of the tragedy.

And it is for that reason that TMZ now finds itself mired in public backlash.

News of the crash worsened when it was revealed that it had also claimed the life of Bryant's 13-year-old daughter, Gianna.

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As CNN Business reported, however, that news became apparent just over an hour after police had even received reports of the helicopter crash.

As is often the case when a celebrity passes away nowadays, the initial report broke courtesy of gossip website TMZ.

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As Matthew Belloni, editorial director of The Hollywood Reporter, told CNN, "When it comes to high-profile people, they have an 'in' with the kinds of people who know this information."

For this reason, he said, they are frequently accurate when they suddenly announce that a celebrity has died in the Los Angeles area.

In this case, however, the accuracy of the report wasn't the issue.

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As Tim Murakami of the L.A. County Sheriff's Office said, the problem was that TMZ's report came out when he was still gathering facts at the scene of the crash.

It also came out well before the Sheriff's department were ready to publicly confirm the identities of those on board.

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But the speed with which TMZ reported the incident could have more personal consequences than simply bypassing police protocol.

This is why Sheriff Alex Villanueva saw fit to criticize the organization while talking to reporters.

Due to the nature of the report, the Sheriff's Department were left without an opportunity to inform Bryant's family about the loss of two of its members themselves.

Instead, they had it to hear it from TMZ.

It turns out that the LA Sheriff's Department weren't the only ones to express how TMZ's rush to be first rubbed them the wrong way.

Fans took to Twitter to voice their own disapproval for how TMZ handled the situation.

As you may notice, this person is going as far as to call for a lawsuit against the website.

As others pointed out, however, this wouldn't accomplish much.

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After all, while we may see reason to believe that TMZ acted unethically, there's no reason at this time to suspect that they acted illegally.

In the eyes of some, however, blaming TMZ seemed misguided.

For them, the outrage should focus on the outlets who reported this story erroneously (i.e. with the claim that Bryant's entire family was on board), rather than those who were uncomfortably fast with their accuracy.

Still, TMZ's actions seemed to prompt users to suggest that it's time to do away with celebrity gossip media at large.

For one user, that meant not only working towards the day where TMZ is no longer a part of popular culture, but also bringing about the end of a similar Instagram-based company known as The Shade Room.

It seems unlikely that this day will come anytime soon, however.

h/t: CNN Business