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Feb 2009
Police Union Weighs in on Rihanna Photo Probe

The union that represents Los Angeles police officers weighed in today on the controversy over a photo posted on a celebrity gossip website purporting to show the bruised and bloody face of pop star Rihanna.

The Los Angeles Police Department opened an internal investigation late Thursday to determine if the photo was part of police evidence in its case involving an alleged altercation between Rihanna and singer Chris Brown.

Paul M. Weber, president of the Los Angeles Police Protective League, today issued the following statement:

"We applaud the Los Angeles Police Department for quickly opening an internal investigation into whether a picture posted on is an actual evidence photo. ... As in the case of the privacy breach earlier this month where confidential personnel information of 248 officers was disclosed by the LAPD, the LAPPL strongly supports an expansive review of security procedures within the Department. We fully support letting the investigation take its natural course."

The photo, posted by on Thursday at 8:39 p.m. EST under the headline "Rihanna -- The Face of a Battered Woman," showed a woman said to be Rihanna with her eyes closed, a fat lip and apparent bruising to her forehead. The site ran a short sentence above the photo stating "TMZ has obtained a photo of Rihanna taken after Chris Brown allegedly beat her."

The LAPD currently is investigating an alleged altercation between Rihanna and singer Chris Brown, who police said injured the female artist during a fight the couple had Feb. 8 in a Hancock Park neighborhood the morning of the Grammy Awards.

The department issued a statement Thursday that said the photograph has the appearance of one taken during an official domestic violence investigation.

"The Los Angeles Police Department takes seriously its duty to maintain the confidentiality of victims of domestic violence," it read. "The Department launched an immediate internal investigation and subsequently filed a personnel complaint. A violation of this type is considered serious misconduct, with penalties up to and including termination."

Weber said the possible breach of security in the Rihanna case underscores a point the union has been making for years -- that accused officers' names should be kept confidential. "The League has fought hard in recent years to ensure that the names and personal data of officers being investigated for potential wrongdoing stay private, despite opposition from powerful opponents in the state legislature and the media," Weber said in the statement. "Despite their claims that accused officers' information will remain confidential, the LAPD cannot guarantee such information will not make its way onto the Internet.

Brown was arrested Feb. 8 on suspicion of making criminal threats but was not immediately charged because the Los Angeles County district attorney's office said police needed to gather additional evidence in the case. Police sources have said Rihanna is cooperating with investigators in building a domestic violence case against Brown and indicated that she had suffered bruises and a scratch on her face resulting from an early morning altercation with Brown. She was treated at a "major medical facility," a police source said.

Brown, 19, who has a double-platinum record and dance moves often compared to Michael Jackson's, fled before officers arrived, police said. He remains free on $50,000 bail and, through his public relations firm, issued an apology for the incident that rocked the Grammys. Brown and Rihanna were both nominated; neither attended the ceremony.



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