Amanda’s Law & What it Means for First Responders if Passed

September 15, 2021 News & Announcements

The Horrific Crime

On August 26, 2011, Amanda Plasse, a 20-year old who was described as an outgoing free spirit, was found stabbed to death in her Chicopee, Massachusetts apartment. Detectives described her killing as very violent and potentially a crime of passion, although there was no signs forced entry into her apartment. Initial suspects close to Amanda were ruled out, leading to a year passing by without any real leads. Sixteen months after the murder, detectives started from scratch and found the message “Dennis was here 8/11/11” on the whiteboard in Amanda’s room. After conducting a record search of anyone named Dennis in the area, Dennis Rosa-Roman’s phone number was cross-referenced with ones on Amanda’s phone records. He had a history of breaking and entering and was arrested and charged with Amanda’s murder in November 2013. In July 2016, he was found guilty and sentenced to life without the possibility of parole.

Amanda’s Law

Amanda’s Law centers around preventing first responders from taking and sharing unauthorized photos of crime scenes. In Amanda’s case, a police officer was quoted at a youth football game showing others pictures of Amanda’s body that suffered stab wounds and a slit neck. Michelle Mathieson, Amanda’s mother, stated he “showed this picture off and said, ‘This is what I have to deal with at work’ ­– how is this not illegal?’” As of February 2021, two of the officers involved in sharing photos were still employed by the police department, empowering Michelle, and the rest of Amanda’s family, to fight on behalf of her and urge lawmakers to act. Although 1,500 registered voters signed in support of the law, the legislation was never voted on.

A similar issue made headlines across the country when Kobe Bryant and nine other individuals were killed in a helicopter crash in January 2020. Eight deputies were accused of taking unauthorized graphic photos of the scene. Kobe’s wife, Vanessa Bryant, filed a lawsuit against the Los Angeles County Sheriff seeking damages for negligence, invasion of privacy, and intentional infliction of emotional distress. As a result, the “Kobe Bryant Law” was approved by California Governor Gavin Newsom in September, 2020, and went into effect on January 1, 2021. The law makes taking unauthorized photographs of a crime scene a misdemeanor punishable by a fine of up to $1,000 per offense.

Aimee Lee Plasse voiced her frustration with legislatures dragging their feet on the issue, stating, “California got their law passed right away, and here we are ten years later, still fighting.” Aimee and her family are hopeful that this year, with the bill being backed by ten legislators, it will finally pass.

What About Florida Law?

Florida law is silent when it comes to the issue of law enforcement and first responders taking authorized photographs of crime scenes. The closest the legislature has come to addressing this topic is Section 406.136 of the Florida Statutes. This section states that a photograph, video, or audio recording that depicts or records the killing of a law enforcement officer is confidential and may only be disclosed for viewing and copying to a surviving spouse, or if no surviving spouse, then surviving parents. If there is no surviving spouse or parent, then an adult child. In addition, the same process is codified Section 406.135 of the Florida Statutes, but pertains to photographs, videos, or audio recordings of autopsies.

It is truly baffling that every state hasn’t enacted some kind of law that addresses this heinous issue. The idea of taking photographs of someone’s deceased loved one and distributing them is not only a morally reprehensible invasion of privacy, but inflicts additional trauma on family members who are processing the unsurmountable loss of their loved one. Amanda’s law deserves to be passed, and hopefully, Florida and other states will take notice and implement similar laws that protect deceased victims, as well as their

This article was written by Sarah Kamide

Back to Top