Back in the days of the Old West, one-on-one gunfights settled issues – the faster gun ultimately having the final say. In today’s high-tech world, issues are raised on the internet – the fastest poster often setting the tone for discourse but rarely having the final say. Nonetheless, celebrities still seem eager to demonstrate their “fast gun,” sending opinions out into cyberspace on issues before grasping all the facts. In doing so, what they believe is “insightful” due to their celebrity becomes “inciteful.”
Such occurred in the aftermath of the Columbus, Ohio, fatal shooting of a black female suspect, 16-year-old Ma’Khia Bryant, by white police officer Nicholas Reardon on April 20. Unsurprisingly, early news media stories focused on “the white cop kills black child” aspect, causing Columbus police to quickly release Reardon’s body cam and other video showing the shooting’s circumstances. Celebrities were still quick on the draw to get their caustic comments circulated, inexcusably doing so at a time of great racial tension.
Before addressing those comments, let us examine the situation Reardon found himself in after a frantic 911 caller said an attacker was “trying to stab” her.
Arriving in a residential neighborhood, Reardon immediately exited his vehicle. From the time he first opened the door of his cruiser, walked toward a small group of residents watching an enraged attacker (Bryant) throw one black girl to the ground before turning on a second victim, it took just 11 seconds for shots to be fired. While walking and assessing the situation, Reardon temporarily glanced at the first victim, ensuring she was all right. Turning back to Bryant, he saw her knife and immediately understood the fate about to befall the second victim who was unable to escape as she was pressed against a car by the heavier Bryant. Reardon shouted at Bryant to get down as she prepared to thrust the knife into the second victim, only firing when she failed to comply.
This incident occurred the same day a jury’s guilty verdict, on all counts, was announced in the trial of white police officer Derek Chauvin for the death of black suspect George Floyd during an arrest. Undoubtedly, anti-police activists, prepared to erupt over a not guilty verdict but losing the opportunity to riot, became eager to take up the cause of any new police shooting of a black suspect. Bryant’s death was it.
Among several celebrities rushing to judgment was NBA basketball star LeBron James whose 50 million Twitter followers tend to accept opinions of the rich and famous.
Inexcusably, James wasted no time condemning and threatening Reardon. He posted the officer’s picture with the message “YOU’RE NEXT” and an hourglass emoji. After receiving severe backlash, James deleted the tweet. He posted a follow-up tweet reflective of an attitude that being a celebrity means never having to say you are sorry by writing,
“… 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.”
While demanding accountability, James failed to apologize or credit Reardon with saving a black life. Meanwhile, Twitter – having earlier terminated President Donald Trump’s account – left James’ active despite his threatening message.
Another outrageous tweet was tendered by former President Barack Obama’s adviser, Valerie Jarrett. Lacking law enforcement experience, she projected the confident air of the Wizard of Oz before being revealed as a fake. Jarrett wrote:
“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.”
Jarrett ignored the obvious. Boxers engage in fights. So too did the gunfighters of old. But the term “fight” indicates equality between combatants. If one is armed and one is not, it no longer constitutes a fight but an attack. As the second victim had no knife, this was no knife “fight.”
Also, unsurprisingly, voicing a liberal opinion was Joy Behar of “The View.” With zero appreciation for making split second decisions to save lives, she suggested Reardon should have fired his weapon into the air to get Bryant’s attention. Doing so would have wasted precious seconds, likely costing the second victim her life as a half-crazed Bryant was in no listening mood.
And then there are always those expressing “what if” scenarios to add fuel to the fire.
Critical race theorist Ibram Kendi queried whether Bryant would have been shot were she white. He refused to recognize this was an officer making a split-second, color-blind decision to save a life, period.
Anti-police critics are attempting to dull Bryant’s sharp edge. A Rutgers University professor suggested, because Bryant was “a big girl,” Reardon unfairly “adultified” her – a claim perhaps stemming more from that professor’s own personal experiences than from a police perspective. Meanwhile, Bryant’s mother wants her remembered as a loving teenager without ever explaining why the girl was living in a foster home.
Minnesota’s black attorney general, Keith Ellison, who prosecuted Chauvin, was pressed by CBS to say Floyd’s death was a hate crime. He declined explaining hate crimes demand “an explicit motive and … bias.” Yet, just like with Reardon, anti-cop activists push the racial hatred theme in this case.
With the internet battle raging, of interest is an opinion by a member of Congress having much to lose by expressing it. Black Rep. Val Demings, D-Fla. – unlike many Democratic colleagues – supported Reardon. A former police chief, she acknowledged Reardon “responded as he was trained to do.” She offered a perspective no other celebrity could – that of a prior “patrol officer who was out there in the street having to make those split-second decisions.”
Several neighbors witnessing the incident also later justified Reardon’s actions.
There is but one question anti-police activists need to honestly answer: Were Bryant’s victim your own child, would you be criticizing Reardon’s actions now?
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This article was originally published by the WND News Center.