The former LAPD officer involved in the photo leak of Rihanna’s battered face in 2009 will remain unemployed with the force, a judge ruled Thursday (March 20).
Rebecca Reyes used her cell phone to snap an image of the singer, born Robyn Rihanna Fenty, bruised and beaten following the assault incident with Chris Brown and shared it with a co-worker. From there, the photo made its way to TMZ and media outlets around the world. Reyes says she is innocent of sending the photo to the website.
In his ruling, Superior Court Judge Luis A. Lavin concluded that Reyes “participated in the release of the photography showing Ms. Fenty’s injuries to TMZ.” Lavin added, “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.”
Lanvin’s conclusion upheld an earlier decision from an LAPD disciplinary panel that found Reyes guilty of several counts of misconduct. She later sued, seeking that the City of Los Angeles and LAPD Commissioner Charles Beck produce a final order upholding the firing decision. Lanvin denied her request after conducting an “independent review of the evidence,” he wrote in the judgment.
Reyes was one of the officers assigned to the team arresting Brown, who was Rihanna’s boyfriend at the time. After she came across the graphic beating image, she showed it to her ex-girlfriend and fellow officer Blanca Lopez, who called TMZ, according to court documents. The women were going through a break up at the time of the photo debacle.
“Rebecca Reyes is an outstanding person and was an outstanding officer,” her lawyer Ira Salzman said after the ruling. Reyes worked on the force for a decade before she was let go. Authorities were unable to conclusively determine which of the two women actually gave the photo to TMZ, and neither received payment from the website.