On the day former Minneapolis police officer Derek Chauvin was found guilty of murdering George Floyd, another police officer shot and killed a black teen girl. The cases were lumped together despite not having a thing in common.
Bodycam video showed that Ma’Khia Bryant, the 16-year-old who died in Columbus, Ohio, last April, was charging a woman and had raised a knife. It’s not like her intentions can’t be intuited, especially given a video that circulated on social media allegedly showing Bryant screaming “I’m going to stab the f*** out of you, b****” just before officer Nicholas Reardon fired on her.
In the aftermath of the shooting, however, there were plenty on the left who reflexively held that Reardon had done something wrong. “Ma’Khia Bryant’s death on the day Chauvin was found guilty is a reminder that we have a long way to go,” read the headline of an opinion piece published by CNN. Democratic Rep. Ilhan Omar of Minnesota called it a “tragedy.”
Most memorably, NBA star LeBron James tweeted a picture of Reardon along with the ominous text, “YOU’RE NEXT #ACCOUNTABILITY.”
James jumped the gun considerably. On Friday, a grand jury cleared Reardon of wrongdoing, WSYX-TV reported.
“The jury … did not proceed with filing criminal charges against officer Reardon and found no criminal act,” Fraternal Order of Police president Jeff Simpson said.
“That is pleasing to hear. It’s always sad when there’s a loss of life. However, that day, the actions of the people at scene caused him to take action that saved lives and he is trained very well. He did his job, and it’s a good outcome.”
The order of events, in case you’d forgotten: Police were dispatched to the scene because “a 911 caller said females were there to stab them and put their hands on them,” according to WSYX. “Dispatchers were unable to get information about weapons at the scene.
“Reardon was the first officer on scene. His body-cam video shows Bryant appearing to try to stab a female when Reardon fired his weapon, striking her.”
WARNING: The following video contains graphic footage that some viewers will find offensive.
In the immediate aftermath of the shooting, before many of the details were known, this was what James tweeted:
LeBron James deleted this tweet but only after it had 39,000+ likes. The man in the photo saved a young black girl from another young black girl who was going to stab her in the neck. He did his job. Now @KingJames put a target on his back. Is the @NBA okay with this??? pic.twitter.com/QegzyySnsI— Robby Starbuck (@robbystarbuck) April 21, 2021
James later deleted the tweet, although he didn’t apologize for it. (Guess he’s not big on #ACCOUNTABILITY.)
Instead, he apologized for letting anger get the best of him, which is a bit different from apologizing for using his status as one of the world’s most famous athletes to implicitly declare Reardon guilty.
“ANGER does any of us any good and that includes myself! Gathering all the facts and educating does though!” James said in a tweet. “My anger still is here for what happened [to] that lil girl. My sympathy for her family and may justice prevail!”
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! 🙏🏾✊🏾🤎👑— LeBron James (@KingJames) April 21, 2021
Well, justice did prevail, although probably not the way James was hoping. In the meantime, Reardon has had to endure a year of liberals trying to make him the new face of police violence — despite overwhelming evidence that he did his job and prevented Bryant from taking innocent life.
“Nicholas Reardon is an amazing officer. He’s an amazing young man. He’s a veteran and he’s also active in the military right now,” Simpson said.
“He is relieved, he’s happy. His family’s happy. There’s still a sad reality for him that he was put in a very unfortunate situation that unfortunately he’s going to have to live with for the rest of his life, but the right thing happened today and he’s going to push through and continue to serve the citizens of Columbus well.”
This is what #ACCOUNTABILITY looks like, LeBron. Take a good look and learn.