A photograph capturing a bruised and bloodied Rihanna surfaced last night on gossip Website TMZ sparking outrage and, for the LAPD, an internal investigation. Rihanna's wounds were described as "horrific" soon after the February 8th incident, which forced both the Barbadian star and boyfriend Chris Brown to cancel their Grammy appearances. While the camera's flash bleaches out the precise severity of the injuries, the photo depicts contusions and swelling on Rihanna's lips and cheeks, protrusions on both sides of her forehead ("It looked like she was growing devil horns," a source told TMZ early in the investigation) and what could be a black eye. A source close to the situation confirmed that the photo is of Rihanna, and the Roman numeral tattoo on her neck matches one that has appeared in recent photographs of the singer. The photos surfaced the night before Rihanna's 21st birthday.
Singer Chris Brown is being investigated for a variety of felonies; the Los Angeles District Attorney's office is reportedly considering charges of domestic violence, assault resulting in great bodily injury and, according to E!, attempted murder. Last weekend, Brown released a carefully worded statement expressing regret over the altercation. "Words cannot begin to express how sorry and saddened I am over what transpired." The 19-year-old star added, "I am committed, with God's help, to emerging a better person." Rihanna's camp has still not issued an official statement.
Meanwhile, the LAPD have launched an internal investigation to determine who passed the photo to TMZ. The chief investigator in the case has been trying to fight leaks, closely guarding the case and making sure no one made copies of the original photos. "The unauthorized release of a domestic violence photograph immediately generated an internal investigation," an L.A. police spokesman said in a statement. "The Los Angeles Police Department takes seriously its duty to maintain the confidentiality of victims of domestic violence. A violation of this type is considered serious misconduct, with penalties up to and including termination."
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• Sources Open Up About Chris Brown and Rihanna's Rocky Relationship, Grammy Weekend
• Report: Rihanna Suffered "Horrific" Injuries