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Black LA cop who condemned LeBron James tells why he wants a sit-down with Lakers star


The Los Angeles Police Department officer who invited LeBron James to meet with him and discuss the challenges faced by cops while in the line of duty says that the NBA superstar has not reached out to him to take him up on his offer.

‘If I do or don’t [hear back from James], I’m not going to lose any love for him [because] the work he does for children and charities is incredible,’ LAPD veteran Deon Joseph told Fox News on Tuesday.

‘It would be disappointing [if James doesn’t accept the invitation to meet] but if it inspires people to start talking again, then that’s good with me.’

DailyMail.com has reached out to James’ agent for comment.

LeBron James

Deon Joseph (left), the Los Angeles police officer who accused LeBron James (right) of ‘putting a target on the back’ of the Ohio cop who fatally shot Ma’Khia Bryant, said the Lakers star is a ‘victim’ who has been ‘gaslit’ into thinking that cops ‘hate black people’

James stirred controversy last week after he tweeted - then deleted - a message to the Ohio police officer who fatally shot a young black girl who appeared to be on the verge of stabbing someone. ‘YOU’RE NEXT,’ the all-caps tweet from James read. It included an emoji depicting an hourglass and the hashtag #ACCOUNTABILITY. The tweet included an image of Columbus Police Officer Nicholas Reardon, who fired four shots that killed Ma’Khia Bryant on Tuesday

James stirred controversy last week after he tweeted – then deleted – a message to the Ohio police officer who fatally shot a young black girl who appeared to be on the verge of stabbing someone. ‘YOU’RE NEXT,’ the all-caps tweet from James read. It included an emoji depicting an hourglass and the hashtag #ACCOUNTABILITY. The tweet included an image of Columbus Police Officer Nicholas Reardon, who fired four shots that killed Ma’Khia Bryant on Tuesday

James stirred controversy last week after he tweeted – then deleted – a message to Nicholas Reardon, the Columbus, Ohio police officer who fatally shot Ma’Khia Bryant, a young black girl who appeared to be on the verge of stabbing someone.

‘YOU’RE NEXT,’ the all-caps tweet from James read. It included an emoji depicting an hourglass and the hashtag #ACCOUNTABILITY.

Reardon has been put on administrative leave.

Joseph told Fox News host Sean Hannity on Tuesday that it could easily have been him instead of Reardon on the receiving end of James’ tweet.

‘That officer could’ve been me,’ Joseph said.

‘I’m thinking of four times in my career where I almost had to use deadly force on somebody and I didn’t sleep for two days and one of those instances, I was this close to shooting a young man to save other people.’

Joseph repeated his call for James to apologize for his tweet.

‘If he doesn’t feel like it, he doesn’t have to. I just thought it would be good if you know you’re wrong on an issue that you say I got this one on accountability, but this one I got wrong.’

Earlier on Tuesday, Joseph said the Lakers star is a ‘victim’ who has been ‘gaslit’ into thinking that cops ‘hate black people.’ 

‘I was LeBron James before I became a police officer,’ Deon Joseph, the LAPD officer who wrote an open letter to the Lakers forward over the weekend inviting him for a sit-down, told Fox News on Tuesday.

‘I did not want to be a police officer at all,’ Joseph said.

‘Being young and African American growing up in the late 80s and 90s, which were very violent and turbulent times, I thought that the police were basically our natural enemy.

‘It’s almost like a rite of passage – if you’re African American, you have to hate the police.’

After the Rodney King riots in 1992 left his family’s business destroyed, Joseph felt he had no choice but to join the LAPD given the few economic opportunities available at the time. 

He said his experiences in police academy convinced him that what he was taught about police was wrong.

‘I was struggling that inner struggle with my blackness. “Was I betraying my people?” And of course the answer was no,’ Joseph said.

‘Once I joined the academy, all the stereotypes that I was fed about police kind of disappeared.’

Joseph said that society needs to come together and engage in more dialogue to overcome the rancor.

‘We need to stop the tribalism and the dehumanization of each other,’ he said.

Joseph also urged supporters of the police not to vilify James.

‘He is also a victim, just like I was,’ Joseph said of the Lakers star. 

LAPD Officer Deon Joseph

Los Angeles Lakers superstar LeBron James

Joseph (left), a Los Angeles Police Department officer who often patrols in the city’s notorious Skid Row section, said Lakers star LeBron James’ (right) ‘stance on policing is so off base and extreme’

Joseph began his open letter to James by praising the Lakers great for his ‘acts of charity’ that ‘shows a huge heart.’ But the LAPD officer took issue with James’ tweet about the events in Columbus. ‘Your tweet that targeted a police officer in Ohio who saved a young woman’s life was irresponsible and disturbing,’ Joseph wrote

Joseph began his open letter to James by praising the Lakers great for his ‘acts of charity’ that ‘shows a huge heart.’ But the LAPD officer took issue with James’ tweet about the events in Columbus. ‘Your tweet that targeted a police officer in Ohio who saved a young woman’s life was irresponsible and disturbing,’ Joseph wrote

‘You basically put a target on the back of a human being who had to make a split second decision to save a life from a deadly attack,’ Joseph (seen above during a patrol in Los Angeles in 2008) wrote

‘You basically put a target on the back of a human being who had to make a split second decision to save a life from a deadly attack,’ Joseph (seen above during a patrol in Los Angeles in 2008) wrote

Joseph said that James has been subjected to just one perspective and that it is understandable he would form the views that he has expressed. 

‘If I wasn’t a police officer and all I saw in the media 24/7 was “The police hate black people”, “The police are out to get people of color”, I would probably feel the same way.’

Joseph added: ‘We’re human beings dealing with human beings and that’s not always going to be perfect or pretty.’

Joseph wrote a lengthy Facebook post addressed to the NBA superstar on Sunday, branding James’ anti-cop stance ‘so off base and extreme.’

Joseph added: ‘You basically put a target on the back of a human being who had to make a split second decision to save a life from a deadly attack.’

The shooting of Bryant took place on the same day that a Minneapolis jury convicted Derek Chauvin of second- and third-degree murder as well as manslaughter for the death of George Floyd.

The fatal shooting of Bryant and the death of Floyd drew comparisons, though body cam and surveillance video that emerged showed that Bryant was engaged in a knife fight with another girl.

In the split seconds before she was shot by Reardon, Bryant reached back and appeared to be set to stab another girl who was pushed up against a car.

James’ tweet prompted a torrent of criticism from conservatives who accused the basketball superstar of inciting violence against Reardon.

Joseph began his open letter to James by praising the Lakers great for his ‘acts of charity’ that ‘shows a huge heart.’

But the LAPD officer took issue with James’ tweet about the events in Columbus.

‘Your tweet that targeted a police officer in Ohio who saved a young woman’s life was irresponsible and disturbing,’ Joseph wrote.

Officer Nicholas Reardon is seen standing on the scene after shooting and killing Bryant

He has been on the force since December 2019

Officer Nicholas Reardon is seen standing on the scene after shooting and killing Bryant last Tuesday. He has been on the force since December 2019 

Authorities said they had been responding to an initial stabbing call at around 4.30pm. The shots fire call was made just 15 minutes later

Authorities said they had been responding to an initial stabbing call at around 4.30pm. The shots fire call was made just 15 minutes later

Ma'Khia Bryant's death has sparked an investigation by Ohio's Bureau of Criminal Investigation

Ma’Khia Bryant’s death has sparked an investigation by Ohio’s Bureau of Criminal Investigation

‘It showed a complete lack of understanding of the challenge of our job in the heat of a moment.

‘You basically put a target on the back of a human being who had to make a split second decision to save a life from a deadly attack.’

Joseph continued: ‘Instead of apologizing, you deflected. You said you took your tweet down because you did not want it to be used for hate, when the tweet itself was the embodiment of hatred, rooted in a lack of understanding of the danger of the situation.

‘I don’t know if this will ever reach you, but my hope is that one day I can sit down with you and talk.

‘As a man of faith, I can have no hatred toward you.

‘But I do feel I can help you understand the reality of the profession of policing, and that there is another side you need to hear.’

Joseph wrote that he shares James’ hatred of racism and police brutality, though he added: ‘But you cannot paint 800,000 men and women who are of all races, faiths, sexual orientations and are also mothers, fathers, sons, daughters, preachers, coaches, community members and just human with such a broad and destructive brush.’

He then offered to sit down and give James the opportunity to have a ‘real honest and open conversation with a cop.’

Joseph wrote that ‘there’s a strong chance [James] may discover we are not the monsters you have come to believe we are, who deserve the hate and disdain you have.’

He concluded the post by writing: ‘Just putting it out in the universe brother.

‘Even if not me, please take the time to talk to a police officer instead of judging them.

Donald Trump issued a statement from his Florida estate on Thursday condemning James

Donald Trump issued a statement from his Florida estate on Thursday condemning James

‘No shade. Thanks for all the positive things you do.’

As of early Tuesday morning, Joseph’s open letter generated more than 5,000 likes, 640 comments, and 2,400 shares.

On Monday, Joseph posted a video in which he discusses the letter.

‘I don’t want anybody thinking this is a “me versus LeBron”,’ he said. ‘There’s no vitriol.’

Joseph added: ‘I don’t want this to be adversarial. I’m not calling him out. I’m not trying to shame him.

‘I want to have a conversation.’

Even if James doesn’t agree to talk to him, Joseph said that he hopes the basketball great will ‘one day sit down with a police officer’ rather than ‘sum up who we are.’

James’ tweet in response to the shooting in Columbus was roundly condemned by conservatives. 

Donald Trump called James racist for his tweet, which the former president described as ‘divisive, nasty, insulting and demeaning’.

Trump, who has frequently clashed with the Obama-supporting sports star, weighed in with a scathing statement on Thursday evening. 

‘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,’ said Trump on Thursday.

‘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!’

Meghan McCain, co-host of The View, joined in the criticism of the basketball star on Thursday, after ex-NFL player turned Army Ranger Jake Bequette hit out at James earlier that morning for ‘politicizing’ sport.  

Meghan McCain has slammed LeBron James for allegedly endangering the life of the cop who shot dead Ma'Khia Bryant when he tweeted 'you're next' after Derek Chauvin's conviction

Meghan McCain has slammed LeBron James for allegedly endangering the life of the cop who shot dead Ma’Khia Bryant when he tweeted ‘you’re next’ after Derek Chauvin’s conviction

 

McCain said on The View that, while she agrees that people of color are treated differently by law enforcement in America, James’ social media post was fueling more violence.   

‘No one without two brain cells in their head can understand that police tend to treat African-Americans and people of color a different way than they do white people,’ she said. 

‘It’s just a fact we’re all trying to reconcile and come to terms with.

‘But when you have people like LeBron James posting pictures of this police officer before this has been adjudicated and litigated, you’re also putting that police officer’s life in danger. And I would like killing to stop in this country and violence to stop.’

McCain added that Bryant’s death ‘will be adjudicated in court’ adding that ‘the way I was raised is to respect authority.’  

‘The way I was raised is to respect authority, to respect police officers, to respect law enforcement. I have a lot of friends who are in the military and who are also police officers,’ McCain said.   

Arkansas Sen Tom Cotton was one of the first to call James out, tweeting: ‘Lebron James is inciting violence against an Ohio police officer. This is disgraceful and dangerous. Is the NBA okay with this? Is Twitter?’  

Ohio Representative Mike Loychik said: ‘People like LeBron James and his friends on the left are driving good people away from careers in law enforcement. This is the exact OPPOSITE of how to improve policing.’

James, whose hometown of Akron, Ohio, is about 125 miles northeast from Columbus, the state capital, frequently weighs in on social issues.

He explained later on Wednesday to his 49.6 million followers why he deleted the tweet, saying it was being used ‘to create more hate’.

Paula Bryant, Ma'Khia's mother, has said she wants answers in her daughter's killing

Paula Bryant, Ma’Khia’s mother, has said she wants answers in her daughter’s killing

‘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. My sympathy for her family and may justice prevail!’ he said.

‘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.’ 

Officials with the Columbus Division of Police had released initial footage of the shooting Tuesday night just hours after it happened, which was a departure from protocol as the force faces immense scrutiny from the public following a series of recent high-profile police killings that have led to clashes.  

‘The fact that I see what I saw on that video is not how I know my Ma’Khia,’ said her grandmother, Debra Wilcox. 

She told The Associated Press on Wednesday: ‘I don’t know what happened there unless she was fearful for her life.’

The incident has caused an outcry in the community and nationwide as Bryant’s killing is the second high-profile fatal shooting of a teenager by police in the last month. Body camera footage released last week showed an officer shoot and kill 13-year-old Adam Toledo in Chicago.

‘It’s a tragedy. There’s no other way to say it. It’s a 16-year-old. I’m a father,’ said Michael Woods, interim Columbus Police Chief. 

‘Her family is grieving. Regardless of the circumstances associated with this, a 16-year-old lost her life yesterday.’

He added: ‘I sure as hell wish it wouldn’t have happened.’

White House press secretary Jen Psaki called the Columbus shooting ‘tragic’ and said President Joe Biden has been briefed on it.

‘She was a child. We’re thinking of her friends and family and the communities that are hurting and grieving her loss,’ Psaki said in a statement.

The 10-second body camera clip begins with Reardon getting out of his car at a house where police had been dispatched after someone had called 911 saying they were being physically threatened, Woods said. 

It remains unclear who called the police.

A spokesperson for the Air National Guard in Ohio confirmed to DailyMail.com that Reardon is a Staff Sergeant assigned to the 121st Security Forces Squadron and has served with the National Guard since 2015.

Protesters in Columbus took to the streets on Wednesday to demand justice for Ma'Khia

Protesters in Columbus took to the streets on Wednesday to demand justice for Ma’Khia

His alma mater’s Twitter account said he earned the expert marksman badge for the M4A1 Carbine fully automatic assault rifle used by the military.

Reardon, who was hired by the force in December 2019, is seen taking a few steps toward a group of people in the driveway when Bryant starts swinging a knife wildly at another girl or woman, who falls backward. 

The officer shouts several times to get down.

Bryant then charges at another girl or woman, who is pinned against a car.

From a few feet away, with people on either side of him, the officer fires four shots, and Bryant slumps to the ground. A black-handled blade similar to a kitchen knife or steak knife lies on the sidewalk next to her.

A man immediately yells at the officer: ‘You didn’t have to shoot her! She’s just a kid, man!’

The officer responds: ‘She had a knife. She just went at her.’

The officer has been taken off patrolling the streets for the time being.

Bryant was taken to a hospital, where she was pronounced dead, police said. Police did not say if anyone else was injured.

In the moments after the shooting, people living or visiting the street filmed as police roped off the area with yellow tape in front of the house where the shooting took place.

A neighbor’s video shows an officer performing CPR on the teenager while a man can be heard yelling: ‘You all just jumped out of the (expletive) car and shot her!’

Neighbors stood in open doorways filming and behind cars shaking their heads, eyewitness footage showed.

People listen as friends of Ma'Khia Bryant speak about her at a community vigil, on Wednesday, at Douglas Elementary School in Columbus, Ohio

People listen as friends of Ma’Khia Bryant speak about her at a community vigil, on Wednesday, at Douglas Elementary School in Columbus, Ohio

Woods said state law allows police to use deadly force to protect themselves or others, and investigators will determine whether this shooting was such an instance.

Ohio’s Bureau of Criminal Investigation is now reviewing the killing following a recent agreement with the city.

The shooting happened about 25 minutes before a judge read the verdict convicting former Minneapolis Police Officer Derek Chauvin of murder and manslaughter in the killing of George Floyd. 

It also took place less than five miles from where the funeral for Andre Hill, who was killed by another Columbus police officer in December, was held earlier this year. 

The officer in Hill’s case, Adam Coy, a 19-year veteran of the force, is now facing trial for murder, with the next hearing scheduled for April 28.

Less than three weeks before Hill was killed, a Franklin County Sheriff’s deputy fatally shot 23-year-old Casey Goodson Jr. in Columbus. The case remains under federal investigation.

Last week, Columbus police shot and killed a man who was in a hospital emergency room with a gun on him. Officials are continuing an investigation into that shooting.

Mike DeWine, the governor of Ohio, said on Wednesday that he watched the footage of Bryant’s killing and called it a ‘horrible tragedy.’

He added that while the public has the video evidence, ‘we need to let the investigation play out.’            



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