Los Angeles police consider possible leak involving photo of singer posted by TMZ 'serious misconduct.'
"The unauthorized release of a domestic-violence photograph immediately generated an internal investigation," an LAPD spokesman said in statement about the photo, which appeared on TMZ. "The Los Angeles Police Department Media Relations Section began receiving numerous inquiries about the release of a photograph associated with a domestic violence incident that occurred on February 8, 2009, involving entertainer Chris Brown."
Although it does not officially confirm that the woman in the photo is Rihanna, the statement continues, "The photograph appeared on an entertainment website. The photograph has the appearance of one taken during an official Domestic Violence investigation."
According to CNN, the chief investigator in the case said that the department has had tried to guard against leaks. Detective Deshon Andrews told CNN that he has been keeping the case file guarded and no copies had been made of the original photos and documents.
"The Los Angeles Police Department takes seriously its duty to maintain the confidentiality of victims of domestic violence," the LAPD asserted in the statement. "A violation of this type is considered serious misconduct, with penalties up to and including termination."
Earlier Thursday, People magazine reported that a relative of Rihanna's, whom it did not identify, said that Brown "flew so far under everyone's radar that we just didn't think he was that [abusive] type." The relative added that the news came as a surprise because "he was always looking after her needs, making sure she was happy.
The timing of the leak is especially unfortunate, since Friday is Rihanna's 21st birthday.
"I don't want her to go back to him," the family member said. "I don't think anyone does."