NEWPORT BEACH, Calif. – Only days before he is slated to make a court appearance on felony sexual assault charges, lawyers for NBA star Kobe Bryant (search) had prosecutors themselves on the defensive early Saturday.
According to reports, one of the investigators from the sheriff's office that stitched together the case against the Los Angeles Lakers star was among 19 deputies named in a racial profiling lawsuit brought against the state of Colorado and Eagle County, by the American Civil Liberties Union (search) back in the 1990s.
The suit, which was eventually settled for $800,000, involved a federally-funded program using race or ethnic background as a reason for pulling over motorists to search for drugs along Interstate 70.
Authorities from the sheriff's office, meanwhile, have been quick to shoot down any assertions of bias by pointing out that the officer named in the reports, Michael McWilliam (search), has done nothing more in the case than escort Bryant to the sheriff's office. Investigators add that of the three officers used to collect evidence against Bryant, who himself is black, one is Asian, another is Hispanic and the third is a woman.
Investigators also confirmed on Friday that the day before Bryant surrendered to authorities on July 4, to face charges he assaulted a 19-year-old employee of the Lodge & Spa at Cordillera (search) near Edwards, Colo. he called 911 and medics were summoned to his home to treat an unidentified female.
Initially, the Los Angeles Lakers (search) star hung up the phone without talking, but a dispatcher called back, speaking to three people, including Bryant, before sending police and paramedics, Sgt. Steve Shulman said. Medics arrived at 12:40 a.m.
"He confirmed that the reason for the call that he made was for medical assistance at the residence and the medical assistance was not for him, it was for someone else," Shulman said.
Bryant, who is free on $25,000 bail, is expected to make his first court appearance Wednesday. He has said his accuser had sex with him willingly.
Following the 911 call from Bryant's home, police determined there was no criminal conduct and no report was taken, Shulman said. He characterized the call as a "medical assistance call."
Medics treated a female at the house but did not need to take her to the hospital, said Vickie Cleary, emergency services manager for the Newport Beach Fire Department.
No further details were immediately available, and it was unclear whether the medics treated a woman or child. Bryant and his wife, Vanessa, had a baby girl in January.
Paramedics were summoned to the house for a similar medical emergency on March 5, Cleary said. During that call, paramedics took a female to the hospital after evaluating and treating her at the home.
"A friend of the (patient) arrived and assumed responsibility for her baby and he secured the home," a report by fire officials read in part. Medics spent an hour at the house before taking the woman by ambulance.
Cleary did not say whether the female treated was the same for both calls.
Krista Flannigan, a spokeswoman for the Eagle County prosecutor, declined comment about the report detailing the Bryant 911 call.
A telephone message seeking comment from Bryant's attorneys in Denver was not returned.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.