Former President Donald Trump slammed NBA player LeBron James late Thursday for James’ incendiary comments on the police officer who shot and killed 16-year-old Ma’Khia Bryant as she was attacking another teenaged girl with a knife.
“LeBron James should focus on basketball rather than presiding over the destruction of the NBA, which has just recorded the lowest television RATINGS, by far, in the long and distinguished history of the League,” Trump said in a statement provided to American Military News.
“His RACIST rants are divisive, nasty, insulting, and demeaning. He may be a great basketball player, but he is doing nothing to bring our Country together!”
The Los Angeles Lakers star had posted a photo of Ohio cop Nicholas Reardon in a now-deleted tweet on Tuesday saying, “YOU’RE NEXT” along with an image of an hourglass and the hashtag “#ACCOUNTABILITY.”
Within hours of the shooting, police released the body camera footage of the incident showing a teenaged girl, later identified as Bryant, pushing one person to the ground before charging at another person while wielding a knife.
James’ initial comments on the shooting sparked backlash from more than just former President Trump, leading the NBA star to delete the tweet.
“ANGER does 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 that lil girl,” James posted on Twitter after deleting his original tweet. “My sympathy for her family and may justice prevail!”
James later added, “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.”
Following the shooting, Bryant was taken to a nearby hospital where she later died. The incident is under investigation.
“Deadly force can be used to protect yourself or the protection of a third person, so that is within policy and that was in the law, that is what the law says,” Interim Columbus Police Chief Michael Woods said. “Whether this [shooting incident] complies with [the law] will be part of that investigation.”
Columbus Mayor Andrew Ginther noted that the bodycam footage of the shooting clearly shows the police officer taking action to protect another teen.
“We know from this footage that the officer took action to protect another young girl in the community, but a family is grieving tonight,” he said.