LeBron James has deleted a tweet that called for the prosecution of Columbus, Ohio, police officer Nicholas Reardon, who fatally shot an African-American teen as she was attacking two females with a knife.
In the Wednesday afternoon tweet that was deleted, the basketball star posted a photo of Reardon with a caption that read “You’re Next.”
— LeBron James (@KingJames) April 21, 2021
James removed the tweet after it drew backlash, including from elected Republican officials.
Senator Tom Cotton (R., Ark.) criticized the tweet, claiming that the NBA star was inciting violence against the officer.
“This is disgraceful and dangerous,” Cotton wrote Wednesday. “Is the NBA okay with this? Is Twitter?”
Lebron James is inciting violence against an Ohio police officer.
This is disgraceful and dangerous.
Is the NBA okay with this? Is Twitter?
— Tom Cotton (@TomCottonAR) April 21, 2021
Police received a call in Columbus, Ohio, at 4:32 p.m. on Tuesday stating that “females were there trying to stab them and put their hands on them,” Columbus interim police chief Michael Woods said. Police body-camera footage depicted a young woman holding a knife during a skirmish with another young woman. An officer arrived at the scene and fired his weapon when the girl appeared to attempt to stab a second woman.
Wood said medics arrived “almost immediately” to perform life saving measures.
Columbus mayor Andrew Ginther said the Bureau of Criminal Investigation intends to look into actions of the officer. “I understand the outrage and the emotion about this incident,” Director of Public Safety Ned Pettus Jr. said at a news conference. “The video shows there is more to this. It requires us to pause.”
The shooting happened about half an hour before the decision was reached in the killing of George Floyd. James’s tweeted comments come in the wake of the guilty verdict in the case against Derek Chauvin, who was convicted on all charges, including second-degree murder, third-degree murder, and second-degree manslaughter of Floyd.
The Bureau of Criminal Investigation (BCI) in the Ohio Attorney General’s Office will now conduct an investigation into the Reardon situation, Woods said. He confirmed that the police officer will be removed off the street from duty in the meantime. The investigation will be routed to Franklin County Grand Jury and then back to the police department for an internal review, Woods said.