News of the shooting spread fast: a 16-year-old black girl was shot and killed by a white police officer in Columbus, Ohio.
Lebron James reacted by tweeting a picture of the police officer who killed her with the caption “YOU’RE NEXT” in all capital letters next and the hashtag #ACCOUNTABILITY.
His condemnation of the officer was swift. But as it turns out, the initial news was missing some important context: body cam footage and a neighbor’s security video show that the 16-year-old girl was attacking another black girl while wielding a knife.
James later deleted his original tweet targeting the police officer, and posted a new message explaining why he deleted the first tweet.
“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”
Rushing to judgement before the facts are in is bad. Targeting a police officer for harassment by posting his picture in front of your 49.3 million Twitter followers is also bad. But the biggest problem with Lebron James’ tweet is that it feeds a growing narrative among people who want to believe that “All Cops Are Bad” and that no use of force or shooting is ever justified.
Bodycam footage and video from a neighbor’s security camera of the incident show that the officer tried to break up a fight, but then the 16-year-old lunged at another girl while wielding a knife, and that’s when the officer shot her. It all happened within about 10 seconds of the officer arriving on the scene.
The officer in this situation was faced with a terrible choice: use force to stop an attack, or let another girl get stabbed and possibly seriously injured or killed.
The whole thing is tragic. The 16-year-old girl was in foster care and clearly had a difficult time in her short life. No one can feel good about what happened. But that doesn’t mean the use of force was unjustified.
After seeing the video, it would be easy to dunk on James for jumping to conclusions and condemning the officer who acted to protect another. But look at how the incident was originally portrayed by the media, and it’s easy to understand how James got it wrong.
The New York Times wrote about the incident: “A teenage girl was fatally shot by the police in Columbus, Ohio, officials said, shortly before a jury reached a guilty verdict in the murder trial of the former police officer Derek Chauvin in last year’s killing of George Floyd.”
The Washington Post wrote: “Ohio police fatally shoot Black teenage girl just before Chauvin verdict.”
Notice how those media outlets and others left out crucial information about why the officer responded with force.
To James’ credit, he deleted the original tweet (although his stated reason for doing so blames others for using his tweet to “create more hate” rather than acknowledging his own erroneous rush to judgment).
Others on the left stuck to the narrative.
Valerie Jarrett, who served in the White House as chief of staff to former President Barack Obama, tweeted that “A Black teenage girl named Ma’Khia Bryant was killed because a police officer immediately decided to shoot her multiple times in order to break up a knife fight. Demand accountability. Fight for justice. #BlackLivesMatter.”
She then sent another tweet: “Just because an officer can use deadly force does not mean the officer should. Let’s spend more time responsibly training them to de-escalate violent situations, and if force is required, use the minimum force necessary.”
(It’s crazy the way Jarrett tried to downplay the danger of getting stabbed with a knife. Just one day prior to the incident in Columbus, a 13-year-old girl in Cincinnati allegedly stabbed a teen girl in the neck, killing her.)
The idea that all cops are bad is sadly becoming pervasive on the left.
Following the recent shooting of Daunte Wright, Comedian Chelsea Hander said that people of color have a “50/50” chance of getting shot by police.
Detroit Congresswoman Rashida Tlaib said she wants to abolish the police and end incarceration, a scenario that is reminiscent of the movie “The Purge.”
Following this shooting in Columbus, hundreds of Ohio State students, faculty and staff joined together to demand the university sever its ties with the Columbus police.
Where is this all headed? What is the logical consequence of framing every situation as though the police are villains? What possible outcome can there be other than less police protection, more violence and more people getting hurt?