TMZ.com posted a photograph late Thursday (February 19) that it claims is of Rihanna shortly after her alleged February 8 altercation with Chris Brown.
The woman in the photograph is shown with her eyes closed, and visible contusions on her forehead, cheeks and mouth.
The Web site did not comment on how it obtained the photo or who took it, but the picture appears to be legit; the singer's well-known Roman-numeral shoulder tattoos (which reportedly mark the birthday of the singer's friend/ assistant Melissa Forde) are clearly visible. The photo seems to corroborate a story the site posted last week, which quoted an unnamed Los Angeles Police Department source as saying Rihanna suffered contusions on both sides of her face, with serious swelling and bruising, and a split lip and bloody nose.
While the LAPD did not officially confirm that the woman in the photo is Rihanna, a statement issued by the department early Friday (February 20) says, "The photograph appeared on an entertainment website. The photograph has the appearance of one taken during an official Domestic Violence investigation."
The statement notes that "the unauthorized release of a domestic-violence photograph immediately generated an internal investigation. ... 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."
Neither Rihanna nor Chris Brown have made a public appearance since Brown turned himself in to the LAPD on and was charged with making criminal threats. Police officers had originally responded to a 911 call in the early hours of Sunday, February 8, after Brown and an unidentified woman had an altercation inside a vehicle in the Hancock Park neighborhood of Los Angeles. The following day, several news outlets identified the woman as Rihanna.
A week after the incident, Brown released a statement, saying he was "sorry and saddened ... over what transpired" and was "seeking the counseling of my pastor, my mother and other loved ones, and I am committed, with God's help, to emerging a better person.
"Much of what has been speculated or reported on blogs and/or reported in the media is wrong," Brown's statement continued. "While I would like to be able to talk about this more, until the legal issues are resolved, this is all I can say."
[This story was originally published on 02.19.09 at 11:27 p.m. ET]