NBA star LeBron James says a tweet with the ominous phrase “YOU’RE NEXT” above a picture of a police officer — whose fatal shooting of a teen girl as she attacked others with a knife was caught on body cam footage — was deleted because it was being used “to create more hate.”
James on Wednesday tweeted the pic of the cop along with an apparent reference to the recent guilty verdict in the trial of ex-officer Derek Chauvin: “YOU’RE NEXT #ACCOUNTABILITY.”
But after a swift backlash, James deleted the post and followed it with another that said: “I’m so damn tired of seeing Black people killed by police. I took the tweet down because its being used to create more hate -This isn’t about one officer. it’s about the entire system and they always use our words to create more racism. I am so desperate for more ACCOUNTABILITY.”
He added in a follow-up tweet: “ANGER [doesn’t do] any of us any good and that includes myself! Gathering all the facts and educating does though! My anger still is here for what happened [to] that lil girl. My sympathy for her family and may justice prevail!”
Ma’Khia Bryant, 16, died Tuesday night after being shot four times by a white police officer. Body-camera footage from the incident shows Bryant, holding a knife, push a female to the ground and then turn and charge at another female dressed in a pink outfit.
Bryant appears to swing the knife at the girl while ignoring officer Nicholas Reardon’s pleas to drop the blade, prompting him to fire the fatal shots.
The incident happened in Columbus, Ohio, minutes before the verdict was delivered to former Minneapolis cop Chauvin, a white man who was convicted of killing George Floyd, who was black, during a high-profile May 2020 incident. Despite the apparent differences in the incidents, initial reports about the Columbus shooting quickly sparked outrage, with many still drawing parallels between the teen’s killing at the hands of a white law enforcement officer and Floyd’s death while Chauvin was restraining him with his knee on his neck.
White House press secretary Jen Psaki called the Columbus shooting “tragic.”
“She was a child. We’re thinking of her friends and family and the communities that are hurting and grieving her loss,” Psaki said.
Columbus Police have requested that Ohio’s Bureau of Criminal Investigation respond to the scene and investigate the shooting.
Local leaders are asking the public to remain calm as the investigation moves forward.
“I understand the outrage and emotion around this incident. A teenage girl is dead and she’s dead at the hands of a police officer. Under any circumstances that is a horrendous tragedy,” said Safety Director Ned Pettus. “I plead with the community. Let us not rush to judgment.”
“We need to let the investigation play out,” Gov. Mike DeWine said during his COVID-19 briefing Wednesday. “One thing I’ve learned in 74 years of life is that gathering the facts is the most important thing there is.”