It seems wild that a department benefiting from nearly $3 billion in funding is asking civilians for financial help to do its job.
What’s even crazier is that this situation involves one of the most crooked police departments in the country, and arguably the most popular athlete in the world since the turn of the century.
Yet, here we are.
After the despicable shooting of two L.A. County Deputies in Compton, Calif. on Saturday night that left both officers hospitalized, L.A. County Sheriff Alex Villanueva went on a radio station Monday and called out Los Angeles Lakers star LeBron James to “match” and “double” the reward set by the county and other pledges to find the person responsible for this heinous act.
In total the amount is approximately $175,000, meaning if James were to oblige he would be paying around $350,000.
“I want to make a challenge…to LeBron James, I want you to match that and double that reward because I know you care about law enforcement,” Villanueva said.
“You expressed a very interesting statement on race relations and 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, races, creeds, and I’d like to see LeBron James step up to the plate and double that.”
James has not publicly responded to the request made by Villanueva.
It’s an ask that at best seems odd, considering that the L.A. Sheriff’s department is under an adopted county budget that will designate billions of dollars to law enforcement.
The L.A. Sheriff’s department budget totals around $3.4 billion.
Not to mention the L.A. Sheriff’s department was forced to fork out approximately $81.5 million in litigation expenses over the fiscal year 2018-2019. Many of these expenses due to lawsuits related to the violent and unnecessary force used by L.A. County officers. These expenses cost the department almost $20 million more than the previous fiscal year which accounted for $62.1 million in legal costs.
The L.A. Police department which patrols the city of Los Angeles, not the county, had a budget of approximately $1.8 billion before cuts of their own.
James has been advocating for the individuals who didn’t receive justice for their wrongful shootings or deaths by the hands of police officers. The shooting of these two deputies has already prompted a dedicated search and a $100,000 reward by the county.
The shooter will likely be caught, arrested, and eventually put in jail. And rightly, so. Yet, the majority of these cops shooting unarmed civilians still don’t receive legal repercussions.
Should I mention Breonna Taylor or Jacob Blake? Or the countless other Black Americans that have had triggers pulled on them by law enforcement, but have seen no one charged with a crime.
Taylor’s relatives received a multimillion-dollar settlement from the city of Louisville for the wrongful death lawsuit filed by the family. Yet, officers have yet to be charged.
Villanueva has put James in an unnecessary predicament. If he doesn’t respond to the Sheriff’s request many will look at him as insensitive to the wrongful shooting of these two deputies.
However, the responsibility of bringing legal action to this shooter should not fall on the shoulders of James. Athletes are forced to speak out when justice isn’t being served. When gunmen aren’t being charged. When an officer who has killed an unarmed Black person isn’t arrested and brought to trial. It’s in these moments, when law enforcement is incapable of bringing charges against one of its own, that James and others feel compelled to speak up.
James shouldn’t be obligated to take on the responsibility of an entire police department that has the resources and supplies to handle the situation simply because of his notoriety and status.
It’s time for the L.A. Sheriff’s Department to do its job here and they shouldn’t need the help of James or any other star athlete.