The largest police union in the United States, the National Fraternal Order of Police (FOP), has released a statement condemning remarks by NBA athlete LeBron James. James called for “accountability” for the Columbus, Ohio police officer who saved the life of a young girl when he intervened in an attempted stabbing, fatally shooting teenager Ma’Khia Bryant in the process.
On Wednesday, James, appearing to operate with limited information, posted a picture of the police officer Nicholas Reardon, alongside the words “YOU’RE NEXT #ACCOUNTABILITY.”
James made his remarks following the announcement of the verdict in the trial of former Minneapolis police officer Derek Chauvin, who was convicted in the death of George Floyd. Chauvin was found guilty of second degree murder, third degree murder, and second degree manslaughter.
In a statement, the National Fraternal Order of Police (FOP) said that 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 officer saved a young girl’s life. No amount of gaslighting will change that fact,” the statement read.
Following severe backlash over his comments, the basketball player and star of the upcoming Space Jam 2 deleted his remarks and appeared to blame his critics for using his tweet 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 said. “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.”
As noted by the Daily Wire, experts have described the shooting of Bryant as “justified,” as the officer had good reason to believe Bryant could have killed someone had he not intervened.
“My first impression is that the officer was legally justified in using deadly force,” said Bowling Green State University criminal justice professor Philip Stinson.
“It’s a terribly tragic situation, and my heart goes out to the girl and her family and friends. 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."