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.