LOS ANGELES – Vanessa Bryant, the widow of late NBA superstar Kobe Bryant, criticized the Los Angeles County sheriff for challenging current Lakers star LeBron James to match a reward offered in the ambush shooting of two deputies over the weekend.
Sheriff Alex Villanueva suggested during an interview Monday that James should double a $175,000 reward offered for information leading to the gunman’s arrest.
“This challenge is to LeBron James,” Villanueva said during a radio interview with 790KABC. “I want you to match that and double that reward. Because I know you care about law enforcement. You expressed a very, very interesting statement about your perspective on race relations and on officer involved shootings and the impact it has on the African American community, and I appreciate that. But likewise, we need to appreciate the respect for life goes across professions, across races, creeds. And I’d like to see LeBron James step up to the plate and double that.”
LeBron James had not commented on Sheriff Villanueva’s interview as of Tuesday afternoon.
Vanessa Bryant, who is suing the Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department after deputies allegedly shared photos from the helicopter crash site where Kobe, daughter Gianna, and seven others died, responded in her Instagram story.
Bryant incorporated screenshots of tweets from a Twitter user named @ElanMaree including one that read:
“He shouldn’t be challenging LeBron James to match a reward or ‘to step up to the plate.’ He couldn’t even ‘step up to the plate’ and hold his deputies accountable for photographing dead children.”@ElanMaree
Another tweet questioned how Sheriff Villanueva could ask athletes and others to trust the criminal justice system when “His sheriff’s dept. couldn’t be trusted to secure Kobe Bryant’s helicopter crash scene.”
Bryant also included a quote from Mayor Eric Garcetti condemning the shootings of the two deputies, adding the message: “Not all deputies are bad apples. Prayers for the 2 deputies that were shot.”
Both deputies were shot in the head at point-blank range while they sat in their patrol car near a Compton metro station over the weekend.
According to the L.A. County Sheriff’s Department, protesters blocked the entrance and exit of the hospital emergency room where the deputies were being treated Saturday night, and at least one yelled “We hope they die.”
The officers were listed in stable condition Monday and are expected to survive.
KTLA contributed to this report.