OKLAHOMA CITY (KFOR) – A measure that supporters say would protect the dignity of the deceased has passed a Senate committee.

Senate Bill 480, authored by Sen. George Young, (D-Oklahoma City), was unanimously approved by the Senate Public Safety Committee on Thursday.

The measure would prohibit any first responder from sharing photographic images or videos of a deceased individual taken while on the scene of an incident for any reason other than official law enforcement purposes.

“This session, I authored Senate Bill 480, which creates a pathway to ensure that families who lose a loved one in an accident are safeguarded from first responders prematurely capturing the unfortunate events and publicizing the photographs,” Young said. “Families should be given the opportunity to mourn their loss without unnecessary exposure to the public. This bill will prevent first responders from falling prey to some of the ill-fated motivations of others to share images with the general public or anyone.”

Young believes the bill will help increase the public’s trust that first responders would ensure sensitive situations are handled with extreme care.

In a similar case that gained national attention, Vanessa Bryant was awarded $31 million in damages stemming from graphic photos taken from the 2020 helicopter crash that killed her husband and her daughter.

The jury agreed with Vanessa Bryant and her attorneys that deputies and firefighters taking and sharing photos of the remains of Kobe Bryant and their 13-year-old daughter Gianna invaded her privacy and brought her emotional distress.

Bryant testified that she still has panic attacks at the thought that they might still be out there.

“I live in fear every day of being on social media and these popping up,” she told jurors. “I live in fear of my daughters being on social media and these popping up.”

During the trial, prosecutors played jurors security video of an off-duty sheriff’s deputy drinking at a bar showing the photos to the bartender, who shakes his head in dismay. The lawyer then showed an image of the men laughing together later.

Prosecutors also described firefighters looking at the phone photos two weeks later at an awards banquet, and showed the jury an animated chart documenting their spread to nearly 30 people.

An attorney for the county defended the taking of the photos as an essential tool for first responders seeking to share information when they thought they might still save lives at the chaotic, dangerous, and hard-to-reach crash scene.

SB 480 can be considered by the full Senate.