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California Family Fights For Privacy, Relief From Cyber-Harassment 544

Posted by Soulskill
from the little-to-no-recourse dept.
theodp writes "Just days after his daughter Nikki's death in a devastating car crash, real-estate agent Christos Catsouras clicked open an e-mail that appeared to be a property listing. Onto his screen popped his daughter's bloodied face, captioned with the words 'Woohoo Daddy! Hey daddy, I'm still alive.' Now he and his wife are attempting to stop strangers from displaying the grisly images of their daughter — an effort that has transformed Nikki's death into a case about privacy, cyber-harassment and image control. The images of Nikki, including one of her nearly-decapitated head drooping out the shattered car window, were taken as a routine part of a fatal accident response and went viral after being leaked by two CHP dispatchers. 'Putting these photos on the Internet,' says the family's attorney, 'was akin to placing them in every mailbox in the world.'"
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California Family Fights For Privacy, Relief From Cyber-Harassment

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  • by eldavojohn (898314) * <eldavojohn AT gmail DOT com> on Sunday April 26, 2009 @09:48AM (#27720981) Journal
    To the Catsouras family, I am deeply sorry for your loss, but your score to settle is not with the nebulous force of users that are the internet but with the Orange County Police Department.

    The family filed a formal complaint about the photos' release, and three months later, they received a letter of apology from the California Highway Patrol. An investigation had revealed that the images, taken as a routine part of a fatal accident response, had been leaked by two CHP dispatchers: Thomas O'Donnell, 39, and Aaron Reich, 30. O'Donnell, a 19-year CHP veteran, had been suspended for 25 days without pay. Reich quit soon after -- for unrelated reasons, says his lawyer. Both men declined requests for comment, but Jon Schlueter, Reich's attorney, says his client sent the images to relatives and friends to warn them of the dangers of the road. "It was a cautionary tale," Schlueter says. "Any young person that sees these photos and is goaded into driving more cautiously or less recklessly -- that's a public service."

    If that does not satisfy you, I'm not sure what will. Sue your police department for large sums of money but it won't take the pictures off the internet.

    Today the entire family is in therapy, and they've taken out a second mortgage to cover the costs of their legal battle.

    Your life up until this accident has sounded fairly idyllic and easy. Apparently this has been a very rude wake up call. Your daughter took your hundred thousand dollar car for a 100mph tirade through town with cocaine in her system. We all do stupid things, some more stupid than others. She made a series of very serious mistakes and luckily no one else was killed or badly hurt.

    If you do not put this behind you, it will consume you and your lives and her mistakes will end up ruining not just her life but yours. Mourn her, celebrate her life, remember her but in the end move on.

    In my opinion, it would be more heroic of you not to spend a second mortgage suing your police department but instead using that money to create awareness of hazardous driving, starting a college fund in her name, donating that money to charity in her name or doing something less destructive with it in her name. Right now, the public's memory of your daughter is for the wrong reasons and you're just exacerbating the situation. Be above that. Change things for the better and remember her fondly, not as a never ending court case.

    • by Anonymous Coward on Sunday April 26, 2009 @09:53AM (#27721011)

      ...but your score to settle is not with the nebulous force of users that are the internet but with the Orange County Police Department.

      That is correct, sir, and here are the pics you were looking for [bestgore.com].

      • by fastest fascist (1086001) on Sunday April 26, 2009 @10:38AM (#27721309)
        Don't know what this should be modded, but I think "insightful" would be pretty a pretty close match. If all the blame truly lies on whoever originally leaked the photos, then posting that link above (assuming it actually contains photos of the incident in question) would be perfectly all right. I don't think many people would take a view quite that extreme. The family receiving this abuse is well justified in feeling wronged by their harrassers. Whether anything can be done about it is a different matter, but just because you're protected by law or practicality doesn't make being an asshat OK.
      • by Joce640k (829181) on Sunday April 26, 2009 @11:37AM (#27721687) Homepage

        If you can't set a good example, at least be a horrible warning.

        With pics.

    • by karnal (22275) on Sunday April 26, 2009 @09:58AM (#27721051)

      I have to add to this; I admittedly searched for her name after reading the article and the top google search is someone who registered her name.net. I'm not going to link; I'm sure others are going to have the same idea as I did to get an idea of the repulsiveness of the photos.

      What a horrible horrible set of pictures. I've seen other death photos on the 'net (haven't we all) but this hits their family with what I would think an unbearable amount of sorrow and anger. No one should see their child that way....

      I feel very sorrowful for the loss of the life there, whether it was a reckless act on her part or not. However, it is purely a dick move to send an e-mail as stated in the summary. Don't think you can sue someone for being a dick, unfortunately.

      • by cheftw (996831) on Sunday April 26, 2009 @10:28AM (#27721239)

        -MILDLY IMPORTANT-
        If you do go to that website be warned, it does contain the images mentioned but also a video. THIS VIDEO IS A VIRUS. It didn't run very well in WINE but some people have less secure nonfree operating systems.

        tl;dr
        If you go to her name dot net the video is a virus.

      • by multisync (218450) on Sunday April 26, 2009 @11:24AM (#27721611) Journal

        What a horrible horrible set of pictures. I've seen other death photos on the 'net (haven't we all) but this hits their family with what I would think an unbearable amount of sorrow and anger. No one should see their child that way....

        Think about another parent who maybe saw their innocent child "in that way" because of the actions of an impaired, drug-addicted teenager driving a stolen car recklessly through a residential neighborhood. It's not like the girl was only putting herself in danger. She clipped another car then slammed in to a toll booth. She showed complete disregard for the well being of anyone else, which is pretty much the definition of a sociopath.

        I understand she had suffered a brain injury early in life and there were other circumstances that contributed to her addiction, and I'm not judging her for any of that. But her actions could have been devastating to another family as well.

        I have no idea who is taunting this family, and agree sending the photos to the family simply to taunt them is a dick move. But they are displaying classic Streisand Effect tactics: telling the rest of us we should give up our freedom and anonymity rather than them accepting that their daughter's actions may ultimately result in them seeing some horrific photos of the way her corpse looked after she killed herself.

        The article states that they are all getting counseling and I think that is a good thing. My family suffered the loss of a child, and it is a life-altering experience for everyone left behind. I think they need to deal with accepting her loss, the guilt they may be feeling for actions/inactions on their part that all of us feel "when it's too late," and they need to come to terms with the fact that these photos are out there.

        Keeping the other kids off the social network sites is probably a good idea for the time being, but they all need to prepare themselves for the possibility that they may encounter them one day.

        • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

          No about the sociopathy. One's mental state while under drugs is not the same as one's normal mental condition, and this sounds like the flying-high, stupid behavior of a teenager on cocaine. And her family didn't give her access to the car: she stole it from them. I'm really sorry for them: they were apparently starting the long, hard process of dealing with a cocaine user in the family. She doesn't deserve that insult: she might well seriously regret her behavior, when off the cocaine, that she engaged in

    • by blind biker (1066130) on Sunday April 26, 2009 @09:59AM (#27721065) Journal

      In my opinion, it would be more heroic of you not to spend a second mortgage suing your police department but instead using that money to create awareness of hazardous driving, starting a college fund in her name, donating that money to charity in her name or doing something less destructive with it in her name. Right now, the public's memory of your daughter is for the wrong reasons and you're just exacerbating the situation. Be above that. Change things for the better and remember her fondly, not as a never ending court case.

      That.

      The only thing that will give some sense to the death of their daughter is if it deters other young men and women from doing the same mistake.

      • by schon (31600) on Sunday April 26, 2009 @11:10AM (#27721521)

        The only thing that will give some sense to the death of their daughter is if it deters other young men and women from doing the same mistake.

        The problem is that it won't.

        These shock campaigns do *zero* to prevent young people from repeating the mistakes. Most youth believe they are invincible, and act accordingly. Showing them stuff like this just makes them say "oh, gross" as they repeat the mistakes, believing that it will never happen to them.

      • by Tuoqui (1091447)

        It'd be easier to sue the police department make some mad $$$ and use all the mad $$$ to do the same thing.

    • by gavron (1300111) on Sunday April 26, 2009 @10:00AM (#27721071)
      "Think of it as evolution in action" -- Niven and Pournelle

      It was a spoilt cocained out of control girl trading hard on the privileges her "loving parents" gave her without regard to common sense, and when she ran out of them and ended up a splattered mess, they are now blaming the world.

      Yup, use your money for good. Suing other people because you're disgusting excuses for horrible parents who let their coked-out daughter continue her life "Oh yeah we were going to take her to a beverly hills therapist on monday" and have access to a $90K sportscar -- well guess what. You failed as parents. You failed as human beings.

      If you want to know whom to blame, mommy and daddy, go take your wads of orange county cash and stand in front of a mirror. If that looks greek to you, well, that's because responsibility and raising kids go hand in hand, and you didn't get it and still don't get it.

      E

    • by Anonymous Coward on Sunday April 26, 2009 @10:08AM (#27721111)

      If you do not put this behind you, it will consume you and your lives and her mistakes will end up ruining not just her life but yours. Mourn her, celebrate her life, remember her but in the end move on.

      Which is difficult if someone sends you shocking photos of your dying daughter...

      • I think this may be a teen trend. It happened to someone I know, albeit over the telephone (fake message from his recently deceased daughter).
      • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

        Which is no reason to ruin everyone's freedom of speech. By mailing those pictures to the father that person is harassing him. There are already laws against that. You go after that person and punish them for harassment.
    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by hhallahh (1378697)
      It's a shame because this is essentially a good post, but the bitter undertone of "your daughter may have died, but you're still living a comfortable upper-class lifestyle" is pretty disgusting (and according to the article, not uncommon.) The family's score is with the OCPD *and* with the nebulous force of internet users (or, to avoid lumping them all together, some specific users.) The main point, though, is that there's only hope for a satisfactory legal resolution with the former group
    • by DMCBOSTON (714393) on Sunday April 26, 2009 @10:22AM (#27721201)
      Bullshit, period. The CHP workers were just plain wrong to release the photos unless they go through their public information office. Ya, once out they are in the wild, but they shouldn't BE in the wild. The boss has control, the pics are CHP property. Suing the CHP will probably be worthwhile to the family ($$$, hey I pass no judgment on that) but it will Definitely tighten up any loose cannons at the CHP. The workers that did this should be held strictly accountable for any pain and suffering by the family through their negligence and the CHP must be made to enforce that on the rest of them. Oh, BTW I am in that line of work and it would never occur to me to pull such a stupid stunt. DMC
    • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

      by Anonymous Coward

      Cyber-Harassment is the problem, not censorship.

      If someone robs a bank, the answer isn't just to put bigger locks on the bank. The answer is to catch and stop bank robbers.

      If someone kills someone with a knife, then the answer isn't to just block knifes with bullet proof vests. The answer is to catch and stop people who kill other people.

      Censorship avoids facing the real issue. Its the extremely twisted behaviours that censorship is asked for, that are the real problem. Shutting out and hiding away isn't th

    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      To the Catsouras family, I am deeply sorry for your loss, but your score to settle is not with the nebulous force of users that are the internet but with the Orange County Police Department.

      How so? The problem is not the pictures being out there its sick fucks from anonymous and 4chan emailing them to the family with captions. The police snafu, helps increase awareness that taking cocaine then driving can lead to horrible consequences, but anonymous harassing the family of a dead girl just offends.

      • Re: (Score:2, Redundant)

        by ultranova (717540)

        How so? The problem is not the pictures being out there its sick fucks from anonymous and 4chan emailing them to the family with captions.

        No, the problem is the pictures shouldn't be out there in the first place. The Internet is such a large place that it has plenty of sick fucks who'll do this kind of shit; the police should know this and act accordingly.

        The police snafu, helps increase awareness that taking cocaine then driving can lead to horrible consequences, but anonymous harassing the family of a de

        • by mjeffers (61490) on Sunday April 26, 2009 @11:02AM (#27721463) Homepage

          This is not either/or. The cops did wrong, should be fired and subject to punishment for any laws they may have broken as well as civil lawsuits. The 4chan kiddies (or more likely, their mommies and daddies) should also be subject to civil suits. Just because the internet exists, doesn't give you the right to be a sick fuck. It also doesn't make being a sick fuck consequence free.

    • by Saxerman (253676) * on Sunday April 26, 2009 @10:36AM (#27721293) Homepage

      They did sue the police department:

      In March 2008, it was dismissed by a superior-court judge, who ruled that while the dispatchers' conduct was "utterly reprehensible," it hadn't violated the law. "No duty exists between the surviving family and defendant," the opinion reads, because privacy rights don't extend to the dead. "It's an unfortunate situation, and our heart goes out to the family," says R. Rex Parris, the attorney representing O'Donnell. "But this is America, and there's a freedom of information."

      There is still an appeal pending, but really, what would you want to see happen? As we blaze forward into the future it's going to becoming increasingly likely that some technology will capture some event most of us would rather not remember. Yet trying to lock up ownership of the past would be even worse than the ridiculous problems copyright laws are causing here in the digital age. You've already acknowledged that once the images have escaped it's basically impossible to put them back in the bottle. Trying to target the original source of their escape seems just as quixotic to me as going after any of the subsequent copies. Certainly, from a legal standpoint it might be easier to discourage and prosecute the source of a 'leak', but towards what end? A sanitized world in which we can all happily only view those events we all agree should be remembered?

    • by Anonymous Coward on Sunday April 26, 2009 @10:47AM (#27721351)

      Legal options are not the only options. Legally, once the information is public, the public can probably do what they want with it (not including harassment). That does NOT mean that our only recourse is judicial. The described behavior is unacceptable, and as a society, we should express our outrage at it. Not through the courts, but socially.

      This means that if someone you know forwards you an email with this picture, let them know that their actions are unacceptable and threaten your relationship with them due to its absolute callousness and offensiveness. If someone shows it to you in the office, let HR know about their completely unprofessional behavior. If you learn of web sites with this picture, rather than visit them and provide them with advertising revenue, page hits, and general validation, ignore or block the web site. If you know of news sites that publish the picture, avoid or boycott them.

      We have power beyond just the law to curb intolerable behavior in our society. We can exclude people who do things that are legal but still wrong from the social groups that we all depend on. Don't let the parent poster fool you into thinking you are powerless.

      There are probably people that think this is as hilarious as tubgirl or goatse. Remind them that there are people in this world that care about human suffering. That there is a difference between what someone intentionally does to or for themselves and the terrible result of an accident, however caused. Remind people of suffering, and teach them to respect it, not enjoy it.

    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by bagofbeans (567926)

      Two cents:
      1c. OCPD response seems surprisingly disinterested and callous
      2c. If the pics had been taken by a 3rd party, such as press photog, then the anger could hardley be focussed on the release, 'cos that's what photographers do

    • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

      by ojintoad (1310811)
      I entirely disagree with your opinion. I think it is very heroic for them to sue the police department and hold accountable the two buffoons that created a more distressing situation for them. It gives me hope that I myself will not have to deal with a situation in the future because police departments will adopt policies to more strictly protect evidence and prevent these exposures from happening.

      [do] something less destructive with it in her name.

      You don't think holding inept police department officia

    • by cowboy76Spain (815442) on Sunday April 26, 2009 @10:58AM (#27721433)
      What a tasteless post. The issues at hand here are:
      • agents of law distribute photos from an accident scene. Given that they are agents of law, the minor answer should be: fire them. The reasons why they did that do not matter, and, IMHO, the explanation that "we did that to prevent other accidents" does not sound good. If they wanted a campaign against car accidents, they could have passed the idea to higher-ups, or used non-identifiable photographies. To me, it just sounds like "we got caught, we need to make up a good excuse".
      • The anonymity of internet helps to get issue #1 out of control. That should be the real issue here, but it has been previously discussed a lot here. The only thing that could make this -barely-interesting here is that in this case, most of the people should be expected to side with the family that wants the information restrained, while usually the slashdot crowd -me too- sides with the part that puts the information online. Either way, the general result is that it is not possible, at least right now.

      Instead, you pass these points and begin moralizing about the circunstances of the accident. What does it matter that the girl whose photos were -unlawfully- distributed was DUI? It makes it more ok than if the girl was sober and the accident was someone other's fault?. It has no relation at all. Also, it is disturbing to find that you do not know nothing about her family except what you read in the article/s, and yet you are able to judge their actions just from your prejudices.
      IMHO the family has all of the right to complain about the mishandling of the pictures and the very light disciplinary action taken. And suing the PD is a sensible action to take, given that it is it that should have ensured, in the first place, that procedures, sanctions and information to the agents are enough to ensure that this kind of thing does not happen.

    • by Joe U (443617)

      Your life up until this accident has sounded fairly idyllic and easy.

      Except for the brain tumor and intensive radiation treatment. Yeah, that's a fucking idyllic and easy walk in the park there.

      Did you bother to read past the first paragraph?

    • In my opinion, it would be more heroic of you not to spend a second mortgage suing your police department but instead using that money to create awareness of hazardous driving, starting a college fund in her name, donating that money to charity in her name or doing something less destructive with it in her name. Right now, the public's memory of your daughter is for the wrong reasons and you're just exacerbating the situation. Be above that. Change things for the better and remember her fondly, not as a never ending court case.

      Perhaps, but if it were my daughter I'd spend every penny I had suing anyone who posted those pictures into bankruptcy. As I (barely) recall CA law they have some pretty strong "right to publicity" laws to protect the use of people's images. While that is designed to allow heirs to control the use of famous, no dead, relatives and profit from their fame; perhaps it could be used in such a situation.

      Just because you can do better things doesn't mean you have to let assholes continue to be assholes.

    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by Joce640k (829181)

      What about the people in the other car she hit?

      Has poor Mr. Catsouras got anything to say about that?

  • cyber-harassment? (Score:4, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward on Sunday April 26, 2009 @09:51AM (#27720991)
    I would just call it harassment. If somebody keeps on getting prank calls on the telephone, it's still called harassment.
  • by OrangeTide (124937) on Sunday April 26, 2009 @09:56AM (#27721037) Homepage Journal

    I don't want to see these photos, and the parents and family shouldn't ever have to see them either.

    The officers and department should probably be punished in some way to avoid this sort of behavior again. I am almost certain there is a policy against releasing accident photos in such a casual way.

    As for stopping the spread on the internet, it's too late. It's probably already in the wayback machine and google images cache. At this point the best we can do is make a firefox plug-in that detects the image and censors it. Then install the plug-in on the family's computers.

    • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

      by Anonymous Coward

      Agreed. Forgetting all the exact details for a second, let's say she died because some guy side swiped her off the road and into a tree instead and was not her fault....
      Now can you see how unsympathetic it would be to release the death photos from the crash scene? You could almost construe the release of the photos as harassment to the family.
      And, on another note, the photo's taken at scenes or wrecks/crimes taken by the police dept.'s camera, and indeed the PD's property and NOT the officer's who took th

    • by aztektum (170569) on Sunday April 26, 2009 @10:35AM (#27721287)

      I'm reminded of a story about the Buddha. Paraphrased: A woman came to the Buddha filled with grief over the death of her child. She asked the Buddha if there was anything that could be done to cure her grief. The Buddha said he knew of a concoction that would do so, and listed off ingredients. The woman got excited and said she would collect the ingredients post-haste. Before she left the Buddha said "The ingredients cannot come from a household that has experienced the loss of a loved one (child, parent, grand-parent, sibling)." The woman agreed to follow the directive and went off in search of the ingredients.

      Everywhere around town she went she found people that were willing to give her the items she requested. However when mentioning the stipulation that it come from a home where no one had died, everyone had to turn her away. She went throughout the whole village and was unable to find someone that had not dealt with such a loss. Realizing this, she discovered the cure to her grief.

      Life spares no one of suffering.

      Are the people posting these all over for kicks utter twats? Yes. Is the family over reacting? Also yes.

      No one should have to see their child in such a way, but plenty people do. If you live in a warzone like Iraq or another country that deals with terrorist bombings all year long, likely you've seen it live.

      But by all means, let's make an emotionally charged issue out of this. Let's censor the Internet. That will surely stop these things from happening in the first place, right? Thank goodness!

      • by lymond01 (314120)

        Obviously censoring the Internet isn't going to help. Firing the two bozos who leaked the photos would be the first step, just to keep it from happening again. As far as the assholes plaguing the family with photos, the family should change their email addresses.

        That being said, do not belittle the loss of a child, especially one in their teens. This alone can devastate a parent's life -- unable to work, to laugh, to do anything other than stare at the wall wishing their child was back. That someone wou

      • No one should have to see their child in such a way, but plenty people do. If you live in a warzone like Iraq or another country that deals with terrorist bombings all year long, likely you've seen it live.

        Let's not go out of our way to rub it into the family's face. 10 years from now these images will still be popping up. Where as in a war zone you'll have hopefully buried/cremated the bodies by then. Just because some have to see it, doesn't mean it's is something we should readily accept due to the carelessness and unprofessionalism of CHP officers.

        I don't have to go to Iraq to see dead mutilated bodies, the American streets have this every night when the bars close. I think you're being overly dramatic ab

      • by Culture20 (968837)

        Paraphrased: A woman came to the Buddha filled with grief over the death of her child [and fear of someone who kept anonymously leaving paintings on her doorstep depicting the brutal death of her child, reopening those wounds] . She asked the Buddha if there was anything that could be done to cure her grief. The Buddha said he knew of a concoction that would do so, and listed off ingredients. The woman got excited and said she would collect the ingredients post-haste. Before she left the Buddha said "The ingredients cannot come from a household that has experienced the loss of a loved one (child, parent, grand-parent, sibling) [and has been harassed afterward as a result] ." The woman agreed to follow the directive and went off in search of the ingredients.

        Everywhere around town she went she found people that were willing to give her the items she requested. However when mentioning the stipulation that it come from a home where no one had died [and the family harassed] , everyone [grew incensed at the injustice done to her because such harassment is not normal] . She went throughout the whole village and [eventually found someone who knew the perpetrators. The village jailed them and the woman found peace, knowing that the evil people would not harm anyone else .

        Life spares no one of suffering [even criminals] .

        Is the family over reacting? Also yes.

        No. What kind of unfeeling psycho/sociopath are you? They didn't see their daughter's picture in an ad campaign for safe driving, on TV, or in a newspaper. People are deliberately doing harm to the family's emotional and mental stability. "Woohoo Daddy! Hey daddy, I'm still alive." is not a normal caption for a picture like that.

        Step 1: They should set their email clients to plain-text
        Step 2: They should hire a secretary to filter work email since the job requires that they look at unsolicited imag

    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by fermion (181285)
      I don't like to see these pictures either, and I wish they would go away. But then there are a lot of people that do. Some children appreciate the gore. Some conservative christians enjoy spending their days marching up and down the street displaying the gore to all passerby. It would be nice if the law would allow police to prevent such disgusting behavior, but there is freedom of speech. I may not agree with it, but as an an American I am duty bound to protect it.

      The solution may be to prevent such

      • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

        by OrangeTide (124937)

        I have the right to complain about the stupid callous behavior of others. And I also have a right to point out when my police department violates protocol. The family of course has no right to censor the internet, and they can't even if they tried. They would just end up having to see the photos more often in an attempt to censor them.

        Such photos have to be taken as part of police protocol, records must be kept. How those records are disseminated are of critical importance to all of us.

        Generally speaking, a

    • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

      I don't want to see these photos, and the parents and family shouldn't ever have to see them either.

      A friend of mine had to work crash sites when he was in the Air Force years ago. He was very careful to see that nothing like this ever happened to any of the photos he took. As he put it, "According to the First Amendment, the public has a right to know, but in these cases, they have no need to know." If those two stupid fools had realized this simple fact, none of this would be happening.

  • Likely to backfire (Score:4, Insightful)

    by blind biker (1066130) on Sunday April 26, 2009 @09:56AM (#27721041) Journal

    Take a random Joe like myself, who hasn't heard of Nikki Catsouras: now I'm aware of the existence of grisly photos of this unlucky young woman. Some of these random Joes will likely be interested in seeing those photos in spite of the family's wishes. And thus the number of people who saw the pics has increased.

    Unfortunately, their only practicaly recourse is just not to look at those pics. I, who has not heard of this woman or her accident before, have not seen the photos, ever, so it is possible to avoid seeing them.

    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by badcowboy (879744)
      Schadenfreude - people want to see the pictures - it is human nature. Think of it as reality television gone horribly wrong. Ever wonder why an accident scene attracts people and will stop traffic even on the other side of the freeway? I had a friend who wanted to carry a manikin head in the car so he could toss it out when going by accident scenes so that people would have something to look at.
    • by MiKM (752717) on Sunday April 26, 2009 @10:12AM (#27721139)
      Not to be callous or anything, but I wouldn't call her "unlucky". Tragic? Yes. Unlucky? Getting hit by a drunk driver is "unlucky". Driving a car at 100 MPH while on cocaine is incredibly poor judgment. I agree with your point, though - I hadn't heard of her either. Sadly, three of the top four Google results contain pictures of the accident.
    • by timeOday (582209)
      Why do you think the family is hoping to eradicate the images from the Internet or stop other people from seeing them? Their own attorney stated, "Putting these photos on the Internet was akin to placing them in every mailbox in the world." Does it sound to you like they are hoping to un-do that? To me it's pretty obvious they're suing for the pain and suffering caused to them by the police, and possibly to decrease the chances of it happening again.
    • ...Streisand Effect.

      For once, I actually feel sorry for the family, and would much rather the images never made it out. However, the consequences of having an Internet capable of silencing something like this, once it's out, are unacceptable.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Sunday April 26, 2009 @10:06AM (#27721099)

    And that's just the start.

    1. They should lose any pensions and should never be able to work in law enforcement again ... anywhere in the US.
    2. If this is a crime then they should be prosecuted as criminals. It should be investigated and if necessary, prosecuted external to the local police department and DA. Both groups want it swept under the rug.
  • by BlueF (550601)
    I am so entirely baffle as to why people would want to view this sort of photo, let alone send such an email. I'm ashamed to be the same species.
    • Every visit http://www.stileproject.com/ [stileproject.com] ? It's full of death, accident, and medical photos. It's interesting. If you've ever wondered what happens, for example, when a motorcycle loses against an 18-wheeler, you can see for yourself.

      It's plain old curiosity.

      Everyone is fascinated with images of mortality, for in them they see their own possible demise.

      • Everyone certainly is not fascinated with such images. I don't know where you get "facts" like that from.

      • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

        you can see for yourself. It's plain old curiosity.

        I could, but I most certainly won't. There are things I'm just not curious about. I know such accidents exist, I know people are fragile, I know people die. I don't need to see it in detail.

        Everyone is fascinated with images of mortality.

        That some people are fascinated with those pictures is fairly self-evident. However, most of us are grossed out and feel the pain of empathy for the victims and their families. These are not pleasant feelings, and we try not to seek them out.

        That said, I don't believe in censorship, and as long as all you're doing i

  • *sigh* (Score:5, Informative)

    by crimsonshdw (1070988) on Sunday April 26, 2009 @10:20AM (#27721193)
    I remember this too. It was passed around last year because of how graphic the accident was, and as a cynical tale of poetic justice to the stereotypical spoiled daughter totaling daddy's Porsche (which is why it went viral, and with help from 'chan). The accident tore her family apart and everyone can sympathize with how much emotional trauma is and will be caused because of the accident. What limited a lot of the empathy from people was the fact that she was speeding in her dad's sports car and died a totally frivolous death. Sending her father crash site pictures with captions for ***** and giggles is so fundamentally flawed. * * * Anyone else read the part where they blamed the tumor on daughter doing coke? "It turned out to be benign, but 8-year-old Nikki had to undergo intensive radiation, and doctors told her parents the effects of that treatment on her young brain might show up someday--perhaps by causing changes in her judgment, or impulse control. Her family believes that's why, the summer before the accident, Nikki tried cocaine and ended up in the hospital in a cocaine-induced psychosis. She used cocaine again the night before the accident, her family says. Lesli and Christos discussed checking her into a hospital, but decided against it: she was to visit a psychiatrist the next day, a specialist on brain disorders. So they let her sleep it off, and the next day, the three of them ate lunch together."
    • by yoshi_mon (172895)

      Thanks for the back story but seriously, this is /. not 4chan. You can curse here and please use paragraphs.

      Thanks.

  • by DamienNightbane (768702) on Sunday April 26, 2009 @10:38AM (#27721305)
    Don't let your coked up daughter steal your sports car and go on a joyride if you don't want people to remind you that you're a terrible parent every day for the rest of your life.
    • by PhxBlue (562201)
      Wow. Please, never have children.
    • by stinerman (812158)

      I don't know about karma, but I don't have much sympathy for the kid. She knew the risks of cocaine when she decided to use it. Unfortunately, only her family has to live with the consequences.

  • There are whole industries based on helping us laugh and yuk it up at the expense of other human beings. Like the Romans packing the Coliseum to watch people fight to the death or be eaten by wild animals we as a race revel in the misery of others. All of the so called 'reality shows' out there allow you to look in on many aspects of misery and discomfort of other people. Marry a Millionaire, The Bachelor, even your game shows are there not so you can see someone win but so you can see lots of someones lose and lose miserably. Let's get that close up of the woman who debased herself for weeks chasing after 100 thousand dollars and who puts her future in the hands of some good looking bachelor fellow and who just lost, the tears streaming down her perfectly done make up job are priceless. The latest internet sensation is a woman who came onstage and everyone was already laughing at her and her awkward, less than attractive ways. Nobody was there to hope that Susan Boyle could sing, they were there to make fun of her and most of the contestants on those shows are there for us to laugh at and even when it gets to the few good singers those of you who watch are hoping to see someone fail more than you're hoping that everyone does well. We love the misery and we love to wallow in it. On the internet isn't the main reason for the website 'The Smoking Gun' so we can see people debased and brought low so we can laugh at them? Every week with the cooperation of Police all around the United States they find the mug shots of people at their lowest point and collect the ugliest, the prettiest and the most absurd photos they can find so we can all laugh at them. We're not told that the attractive woman whose picture becomes internet fodder was arrested after fighting with her boyfriend, mother or for not having her Driver's License when stopped for going five miles over the speed limit. No, we get to laugh and guffaw and make jokes like 'bath her and bring her to my tent' for our own amusement. Meanwhile, there she is, forever on the internet because the dignity of human beings isn't our concern and it certainly isn't the concern of the people who get those mugshots and post them for all to laugh at. Human dignity isn't high no the list of things that Police concern themselves with as witnessed by the weekly mugshot review from The Smoking Gun and posted at Fark. But the Police are only a reflection of the rest of society they come from and the posting of grisly car accident photos is a reflection on us. There should be privacy rules and laws against that since common decency isn't one of the more common attributes of people if it ever was except in our best, most rose colored visions of ourselves.
    • by Areyoukiddingme (1289470) on Sunday April 26, 2009 @11:06AM (#27721497)

      Speak for yourself. There's a reason I don't own a television. The TV shows produced with a big budget use it to depict grisly murder on a nightly basis (Dexter, CSI). The ones with a smaller budget use it to depict misery and failure ('reality' TV). The religious channels wallow in it and use it to guilt people into donating money, thereby excoriating their guilt, which instantly translates into 'I can watch it some more now, and even if I'm a horrible person for doing it, I'm also forgiven.' The hundreds of available channels serve only to multiply the effect. No thanks.

  • We give members of the police, fire department, IRS, etc. authority over us, and grant them special access to our personal affairs to allow them to do their jobs.

    When these people abuse their authority, or misuse this special access, they're not just betraying their organization, they're betraying all of society. As such, this shouldn't be just an internal disciplinary matter: it should be a crime.

    IANAL: is there in fact a criminal charge that can be laid on these guys, something specific to their role as

    • by faedle (114018)

      The photographs were collected as part of a police investigation. As such, they are a matter of public record, and can be obtained through a Freedom of Information Act request.

      The only "crime" committed here is that two officers did not follow internal policy, which is hardly a federal offense.

      From what I understand, the officers in question were disciplined for not following the proper procedure.

      Or, are you suggesting that pictures taken by the police are not subject to disclosure? Be careful what you wi

      • IANAL, but I'm pretty sure sending the email to the father is harassment. I think this may be a teen trend too. My niece's best friend died in a car crash last year and some sick girl left a message on his cell phone pretending to be her last month.
  • by AbsoluteXyro (1048620) on Sunday April 26, 2009 @10:08PM (#27725959)
    I seriously hope they do. E-mailing these pictures to her family? That is the dickest move of all dick moving time.

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