Eight deputies were involved in snapping and taking and/or sharing photos of Kobe Bryant's helicopter crash site ... according to L.A. County Sheriff Alex Villanueva.
The Sheriff made the revelation Monday, saying he's "shocked" by the scandal and calling it "a punch to the gut." Villanueva says the images have been erased and the deputies involved are facing disciplinary action and an investigation.
Villanueva also says there's a "sense of betrayal" to the families who lost loved ones in the tragedy. He claims there were only 2 groups at the scene authorized to take pics -- the coroner and NTSB investigators.
As we've reported ... some deputies took pics at the crash site and sent them to numerous people inside and outside the department. Law enforcement sources also told us a deputy trainee was inside a bar several days after the crash and showed a woman photos of the remains. The bartender overheard and filed an online complaint with the Sheriff's Department.
Villanueva says it's not a crime for law enforcement to take these photos, but he says it's still against department policy and says he's apologized to the families.