Nathaniel S. Butler/NBAE via Getty Images LeBron James
According to ESPN and NBC News, the NBA star's since-deleted tweet featured a photo of officer Nicholas Reardon, who has since been identified as the officer who shot Bryant. James' caption alongside the photo read, "YOU'RE NEXT #ACCOUNTABILITY" with an hourglass emoji. (James' message was seemingly a reference to the guilty verdict in the murder case of Minneapolis officer Derek Chauvin, who killed George Floyd.)
James, 36, received backlash for the tweet from many, including Republican Senator Tom Cotton of Arkansas, who accused him of "inciting violence" against Reardon. "This is disgraceful and dangerous. Is the NBA okay with this? Is Twitter?" Cotton said on Twitter.
The Los Angeles Lakers star later addressed what he wrote in two follow-up tweets Wednesday evening.
"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 in the first tweet.
James added, "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."
On Tuesday, police responded to the 3100 block of Legion Lane at 4:45 p.m. local time when an officer — who has since been identified as Reardon — allegedly shot Bryant four times. She was then transported to Mount Carmel East Hospital where she was pronounced dead at 5:21 p.m., police told The Columbus Dispatch.
In a press conference, Columbus interim Chief of Police Michael Woods played a brief video that showed the altercation that led to Bryant being fatally shot.
"What the video shows is the female with a knife attempting to stab the first female that lands on the ground," Woods said. "And then the second female that is pushed against the vehicle."
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Ma'Khia's aunt, Hazel Bryant, told The Dispatch her niece had been fighting with someone else at a foster home. The victim's aunt also maintained that her niece dropped the knife she used in defense from her attacker prior to the police officer shooting her.
"She was a good kid. She was loving," Hazel told reporters at the scene, according to The Daily Beast. "She didn't deserve to die like a dog in the street."
The Ohio Bureau of Criminal Investigation is investigating the officer-involved shooting and will review the body-camera footage from the officer.
Bryant was declared dead in the officer-involved shooting just minutes before Chauvin's guilty verdict for the May 2020 murder of Floyd, a 46-year-old Black man.
Chauvin was convicted of all three charges — second-degree unintentional murder, third-degree murder and second-degree manslaughter — that he faced.
James was among many stars to react to the verdict on social media, writing on Twitter, "ACCOUNTABILITY."
To help combat systemic racism, consider learning from or donating to these organizations:
Campaign Zero (joincampaignzero.org) which works to end police brutality in America through research-proven strategies.
ColorofChange.org works to make the government more responsive to racial disparities.
National Cares Mentoring Movement (caresmentoring.org) provides social and academic support to help Black youth succeed in college and beyond.