Los Angeles County Sheriff Alex Villanueva on Monday challenged NBA star LeBron James to match a $175,000 reward for finding the suspect who attempted to assassinate two deputies in their patrol car over the weekend.
Mr. Villanueva expressed doubt he will ever hear from Mr. James, who has been an outspoken supporter of the Black Lives Matter movement but hasn’t spoken publicly about the ambush shooting in Compton that landed two deputies in the hospital Saturday night.
The Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Office is offering a $100,000 reward for information leading to an arrest of the man seen on surveillance video firing a handgun into a patrol car. Mr. Villanueva said Monday that private donations had upped that number to $175,000, and he thinks Mr. James should “step up” and double it.
“This challenge is to LeBron James: I want you to match that and double that reward,” the sheriff said during a KABC interview.
“I know you care about law enforcement,” he continued. “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 appreciate that. But likewise, we need to appreciate that respect for life goes across professions, across races, [and] creeds. And I’d like to see LeBron James step up to the plate and double that.”
“Let’s see what he does,” he added. “I’ll be very curious to see what his response is, if any. We got to get people to start thinking [about] the big picture. Words have consequences and we need to tone down the rhetoric. We need to obviously get rid of the violence and spend more time understanding each other, rather than condemning each other. Particularly when people are voicing their opinions as if they’re facts, when they’re not, and more of that will come down later.”
Mr. James had yet to comment on the offer as of Tuesday morning.
Last month, Mr. James expressed outrage after an officer shot Jacob Blake in Kenosha, Wisconsin, saying, “We are scared as Black people in America. Black men, black women, black kids. We are, we are terrified.”
The Lakers star has also called for justice for Breonna Taylor, a 26-year-old EMT who was fatally shot in March when police officers entered her apartment with a no-knock warrant.