Los Angeles police have been trying to hunt down the cops who gave TMZ that awful picture of a battered Rihanna — and they may have just caught them.

The LAPD placed two officers, Rebecca Reyes and Blanca Lopez, on leave in connection with their investigation into the leak, the AP reports; supposedly the officers in question met Levin at a gay/lesbian networking event, at least according to a report floated in TheMediaBuffet.com, which last winter was first to report that TMZ paid $62,500 for the police snapshot.

Lopez's attorney has issued a blanket denial that she had anything to do with the leak; Reyes' lawyer has, according to AP, said she "did nothing criminal or anything for financial gain" — a much more specific denial that leaves open that possibility that TMZ's money may have gone to a friend or relative, as anti-paparazzi advocates claim is common practice.

The question of Reyes and Lopez's guilt is beside the point as far as the effect on TMZ is concerned: It's going to be harder to get the cooperation of law enforcement sources if they think it is at all likely a witchhunt will put their steady government job and comfy, government-funded retirement at risk, leaving them in the cold during a recession. Maybe Levin should put these two on the TMZ payroll, as a counter-example to others. He could certainly afford it.

(Pic: Levin at a Laker's game in April. Getty.)