Los Angeles police are investigating the possibility that someone inside the department leaked or sold to a celebrity website a photo of the singer Rihanna that showed facial injuries from an alleged assault by her boyfriend, the Los Angeles Times reports. Officials said it appears the photo is part of the ongoing investigation of Chris Brown, the pop star who allegedly assaulted the singer the day of the Grammy Awards two weeks ago. Assistant Chief Earl Paysinger said, “We are obligated to protect the victims of domestic violence. The investigation will determine who had access and who was present that day during the process. We will leave no stone unturned to identify who did this or to refute that this was a photo from the Police Department.”
The popular, no-holds-barred website TMZ.com posted the disturbing photo Thursday. The close-up of the singer’s face shows her with bruises and cuts on her forehead, lips, and eyes. The Times says its appearance set off a frenzy of interest as countless media outlets linked readers to the photo and thousands of people posted comments to the TMZ site regarding the photo. Both the L.A. Police Department and the Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department must grapple with keeping investigations involving celebrities confidential. The problem has grown worse with the rise of celebrity gossip websites.