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Largest U.S. Police Union Rips LeBron James For Targeting Officer: ‘Disgraceful,’ ‘Should Educate Himself’
In this screengrab, LeBron James speaks during Graduate Together: America Honors the High School Class of 2020 on May 16, 2020. (Photo by Getty Images/Getty Images for EIF & XQ)
Getty Images/Getty Images for EIF & XQ

The National Fraternal Order of Police (NFOP) slammed NBA star LeBron James Wednesday after the pro athlete posted a picture of an Ohio police officer who killed a 16-year-old black girl to save another girl from harm.

The girl, Ma’Khia Bryant, was wielding a knife and attempting to stab another girl when the officer shot her Tuesday. Experts say the shoot was “legally justified” as the officer was acting to protect someone from potentially fatal harm.

A day after Bryant’s death, James posted a tweet with a picture allegedly of the officer involved with the caption “YOU’RE NEXT,” an hourglass emoji, and “#ACCOUNTABILITY.” James’ tweet followed soon after the verdict in the case of former police officer Derek Chauvin was announced in Minneapolis. Chauvin was found guilty of second-degree murder, third-degree murder, and second-degree manslaughter in the death of George Floyd last year.

James, “with his vast resources & influence, should educate himself and, frankly, has a responsibility to do so, on the facts before weighing in. This is disgraceful & extremely reckless,” the NFOP tweeted Wednesday in response to James’ targeting of the Columbus officer. “The officer saved a young girl’s life. No amount of gaslighting will change that fact.”

James later deleted the tweet of the photo of the officer, claiming that the tweet was being used to “create more hate.”

“ANGER does (sic) any of us any good and that includes myself!” James tweeted. “Gathering all the facts and educating does though! My anger still is here for what happened that lil girl. My sympathy for her family and may justice prevail!”

“I’m so damn tired of seeing Black people killed by police,” he added. “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.”

Bryant’s shooting was “justified,” experts have said, because the Columbus officer had reason to believe that Bryant could have potentially killed someone else had she not been stopped.

“My first impression is that the officer was legally justified in using deadly force,” Bowling Green State University criminal justice professor Philip Stinson said.

“It’s a terribly tragic situation, and my heart goes out to the girl and her family and friends,” he said. “But from looking at the video, it appears to me that a reasonable police officer would have had a reasonable apprehension of an imminent threat of serious bodily injury or death being imposed against an officer or someone else. That’s the legal standard.”

Retired Columbus SWAT officer James Scanlon agreed with Stinson’s analysis. “An officer is justified in using deadly force if his life or the life of someone else is at risk,” Scanlon said. “Few would argue that there weren’t at least two lives there that were at serious risk.”

The officer shot Bryant “to save the life of someone he doesn’t even know,” Scanlon said. “It’s a shame that no one has recognized that that officer, in all likelihood, saved one or more lives.”

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