LeBron James deleted a tweet calling out the Columbus, Ohio police officer who fatally shot 16-year-old Ma’Khia Bryant and later explained why on Twitter.
The NBA superstar said that he’s gathering more facts in the case, but said his “anger still is here” after the shooting.
“I’m so damn tired of seeing Black people killed by police,” he said on Twitter. “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”
The Los Angeles Lakers forward originally posted a tweet showing a photo of Nicholas Reardon, who officials identified Wednesday as the officer who shot Bryant. The tweet included the caption, “YOU’RE NEXT” with an hourglass emoji. He later scrubbed it off his Twitter feed.
GOP senators Tom Cotton and Ted Cruz were among some critics who accused James of instigating violence against the officer.
“Lebron James is inciting violence against an Ohio police officer,” Cotton tweeted. “This is disgraceful and dangerous. Is the NBA okay with this? Is Twitter?”
In an interview on “Fox News Primetime,” Cruz called his remarks a “grossly irresponsible message for LeBron James to send out.”
“In this instance, ‘you’re next’ could certainly be interpreted by some, even, as a call for violence,” Cruz said.
More than 100 miles away from James’ hometown of Akron, Ohio, officers were responding to a fight in Columbus Tuesday afternoon. A slowed-down version of body camera footage appeared to show Bryant attacking two other people, lunging at one with something in her hand, just after an officer arrived. The officer, identified as Reardon, fired his weapon several times while Bryant and another girl were struggling against the side of a parked car. A knife could be seen next to Bryant’s body after the shooting.
It was unclear what led to the altercation, which was already in progress when the officers arrived. The Ohio Bureau of Criminal Investigation is investigating the shooting.