LOS ANGELES (CBSLA) — Vanessa Bryant, the widow of the late Kobe Bryant, does not appear to want Lakers superstar LeBron James to take up a challenge from Los Angeles County Sheriff Alex Villanueva to double a reward for information leading to the arrest of a gunman who critically wounded two deputies in an ambush attack.
Bryant is suing the Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department after several deputies were found to be sharing graphic photos of the Jan. 26 helicopter crash that killed her husband, their 13-year-old daughter, Gigi, and seven others. Villanueva confirmed in March that eight deputies were involved in sharing the photos.
But since then, civil unrest over the deaths of unarmed Black people at the hands of police has athletes like James using their celebrity platforms to speak out. With emotions high for both the loss of Black lives and the safety of police officers, Villanueva challenged the Lakers star Monday to double the reward for information leading to the capture and arrest of the gunman who ambushed two deputies at point-blank range Saturday.
Bryant weighed in on the challenge in her Instagram Stories, reposting a tweet that cast doubt on the challenge to James and how the sheriff was unable to “hold his deputies accountable for photographing dead children.” Another Story reposted another tweet asking how Villanueva can ask athletes, elected officials and civic leaders to trust the criminal justice system when “His sheriff’s dept. couldn’t be trusted to secure Kobe Bryant’s helicopter crash scene, his deputies took and shared graphic photos of the crash victims.”
She also posted a composite image of the eight passengers who were killed in the crash and an image of Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti’s statement about the two deputies who had been shot with this messages: “Not all deputies are bad apples. Prayers for the 2 deputies that were shot.”
The two deputies, who were both shot several times at point-blank range, are expected to survive. The gunman remains at large.