LEBRON James has apologized for “fuelling the wrong conversation” with his tweet telling the cop who shot dead Ma’Khia Bryant “you’re next.”
The NBA star faced criticism for sharing a picture of officer Nicholas Reardon, who fatally shot the 16-year-old just before ex-cop Derek Chauvin was found guilty of George Floyd’s murder.
James deleted the tweet shortly afterward but has now apologized as he said it was his responsibility to “change” the conversation.
“I fueled the wrong conversation about Ma’Khia Bryant and I owe it to her and this movement to change it,” he wrote on Twitter on Monday.
He also shared a link to an article about the the reaction to Bryant’s death.
“Protect our Young Black Women & Men!” James added.
Amid a wave of outrage, James took to Twitter to vent his anger and shared the since-deleted tweet with his 49.6 million followers.
Among those criticizing James was black Los Angeles cop Deon Joseph who called on the star to meet with him and discuss the challenges facing on-duty officers.
In a lengthy Facebook post, Joseph criticized James’ anti-cop stance as being “so off base and extreme.”
While praising the 36-year-old Lakers player’s “huge heart” for his work with children and “other acts of charity”, the disgruntled cop condemned his lack of understanding of law enforcement as “irresponsible and disturbing.”
He said that there were four times in his 25-year career where he almost had to use deadly force on someone.
“I didn’t sleep for two days and one of those instances, I was this close to shooting a young man to save other people,” said Joseph.
Joseph told Fox News that James is a “victim” who has been “gaslit” into thinking that the police “hate black people.”
“I was LeBron James before I became a police officer,” he said.
“Being young and African American growing up in the late 80s and 90s, which were very violent and turbulent times, I thought that the police were basically our natural enemy.”
He added that he didn’t want to be a police officer and that it was a given that “if you’re African American, you have to hate the police.”
But after the Rodney King riots in 1992 that destroyed his family’s business, Joseph had no option but to join the police force with the limited opportunities at the time.
James’ tweet came after multiple videos documented Bryant’s death after the 16-year-old was shot four times as she apparently attacked another girl with a knife.
Cops responded to reports of a stabbing at 4.32pm, with officers arriving on the scene minutes later at 4.44pm.
The graphic bodycam footage of the shooting was released by officials hours after her death.
In the chaotic footage, two girls can be seen arguing before a cop shouted: “Get down” and began firing his weapon multiple times at one of them, moments after arriving on the scene.
One of the officers can be seen taking witnesses to police vehicles while he tapes off the crime scene.
“She came after me with a knife so he got her,” a witness wearing pink can be heard telling the cop.
A second officer’s footage showed him giving medical aid to Bryant as she laid on the floor next to a car, bleeding, while another officer administering CPR pleads: “stay with us Ma’khia.”
Reardon has been placed on administrative leave while police investigate if his actions were justified, Police Chief Michael Woods told The Columbus Dispatch.
He was hired by the force in December 2019.
Bryant’s family has claimed that she called police because she was being abused by someone at the foster home where she lived, The Daily Beast reported.
Her aunt Hazel Bryant told The Columbus Dispatch that her niece got into an altercation with someone else who lived at the same home.
She claimed that Ma’khia had a knife – and although she dropped it, she was shot multiple times, reports The Columbus Dispatch.
Bryant’s foster mom Angela Moore has claimed the argument was over an unmade bed.