Vanessa Bryant, the widow of NBA star Kobe Bryant, is slamming back at the Los Angeles County Sheriff, after he issued a $175,000 reward challenge to basketball star LeBron James in connection with the ambush-style shootings of two deputies.
According to Fox News, Bryant shared a series of tweets and stories on her Instagram story that made her perspective clear. They are all harshly critical of the sheriff. Bryant’s page is private.
One tweet shared by Vanessa Bryant is by a Twitter user named Elan Maree. “How can he talk about trusting the system? His sheriff’s dept. couldn’t be trusted to secure Kobe Bryant’s helicopter crash scene, his deputies took and shared graphic photos of crash victims. Vanessa Bryant is suing them,” that Twitter user wrote. That user also shared a video clip of the sheriff in which the journalist who shared it wrote, “In this clip, @LASDHQ @LACoSheriff says athletes, elected officials and civic leaders need to emphasize trust in the criminal justice system, rather than ‘fanning the flames of hatred.'”
Here’s what you need to know:
That Wasn’t the Only Thing Vanessa Bryant Shared
According to Fox, Vanessa Bryant also shared the headline and story from a May article in the Hollywood Reporter that read, “L.A. County Sheriff Sued by Union to Keep Graphic Kobe Picture Investigation Private.”
That story starts, ” Eight deputies are accused of sharing images from the helicopter crash site. The union for deputies of the Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department is suing Sheriff Alex Villanueva to keep an internal affairs investigation into the alleged distribution of graphic Kobe Bryant crash-site photos private.”
“That was my No. 1 priority, was to make sure those photos no longer exist,” Villanueva said at the time, according to THR. “We identified the deputies involved, they came to the station on their own and had admitted they had taken them and they had deleted them. And, we’re content that those involved did that.”
Another article shared by Vanessa Bryant appeared in Lakers Nation. That story alleges that “an investigation has been launched into a possible cover-up attempt by Sheriff Alex Villanueva of the photos’ existence.”
Villanueva made the comments about LeBron James on KABC radio.
James Has Spoken Out About Police Shootings
The sheriff “issued a challenge to LA Lakers star and social activist LeBron James,” the radio station reported. “Villanueva challenged the Lakers’ star to match the reward money that has been put up for information that leads to the arrest and conviction of the person or persons responsible for the ambush shooting. According to Villanueva, the amount already pledged by the county is $100,000 plus private pledges of $50,000 and $25,000. Sheriff Villanueva challenged James to double the $175,000 amount to $350,000.”
You can listen to the audio of the sheriff’s challenge here.
It wasn’t clear whether James is aware of the sheriff’s challenge or what his response is going to be.
The sheriff said on the radio:
This challenge is to LeBron James. I want you to match that and double that reward. I know you care about law enforcement. You expressed a very interesting statement about your perspective on race relations and on officer-involved shootings and the impact that it has on the African-American community. And I appreciated that. But likewise, we need to appreciate that respect for life goes across all professions.
James has spoken out about police shootings. “And y’all wonder why we say what we say about the Police!! Someone please tell me WTF is this???!!! Exactly another black man being targeted,” James wrote previously on Twitter. He was speaking of the Kenosha police shooting of Jacob Blake. “This s— [sic] is so wrong and so sad!! Feel so sorry for him, his family and OUR PEOPLE!! We want JUSTICE.”
He’s also tweeted about what he called “SYSTEMIC POLICING BEHAVIOR!!!!!!”
The deputies’ names have not yet been released. The suspect is not yet known. The Sheriff’s Department said it has received support from throughout the country. “We are humbled in the tremendous outpouring of Love, overwhelming show of support & uplifting words & acts of kindness from the public & our Brothers in Blue, both near & far, for the deputies ambushed in Compton,” the Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department wrote on Twitter. “We remain steadfast in Fighting the Good Fight.”
The Officers Were Ambushed as They Sat in Their Squad Car, Video Shows
The Sheriff’s Department earlier released a video showing the suspect shooting into the squad car. The department says the shooting was unprovoked and occurred as the officers sat in their car at a transit station. You can watch that video above.
The Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department wrote on Twitter:
“… 2 of our Sheriff Deputies were shot in Compton and were transported to a local hospital. They are both still fighting for their lives, so please keep them in your thoughts and prayers. … One male deputy and one female deputy were ambushed as they sat in their patrol vehicle. Both sustained multiple gunshot wounds and are in critical condition. They are both currently undergoing surgery. The suspect is still at large.”
President Donald Trump wrote on Twitter of the Compton shooting, “Animals that must be hit hard!”
“God bless them, it looks like they’re going to be able to recover,” the sheriff said previously of the wounded deputies, according to The Associated Press. “They survived the worst.”
According to The New York Times, the male deputy is 24, and the female deputy is the 31-year-old mother of a 6-year-old boy.
The Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department announced a $100,000 reward in the manhunt for the suspect. People with tips are urged to call 323-890-5500.
The reward poster says that, around 6:58 p.m, the lone gunman ambushed the deputies as they sat in their patrol vehicle at MLK Transit Center.
The suspect was described as a Black male, 28-30 years old, wearing dark clothing. He was last seen northbound on Willowbrook Avenue in a black 4-door sedan.