(WJW) — A police officer in Los Angeles has invited LeBron James to “sit down” and “talk” about the “reality of the profession of policing” after the basketball player posted and deleted a tweet about a fatal police shooting in Columbus.
Officer Deon Joseph is a 24-year veteran of the Los Angeles Police Department, according to Fox News. He posted his letter to Facebook on Sunday.
On April 21, James tweeted a photo of the officer involved in the shooting with a caption reading “YOU’RE NEXT #ACCOUNTABILITY.” He later deleted the tweet.
James was reacting to the deadly police shooting of 16-year-old Ma’Khia Bryant. Bryant was shot and killed by an officer on the east side of Columbus on April 20.
Video from body-worn cameras shows the teen, armed with a knife, try to stab two others, according to police. The officer can be heard yelling, “Get down” repeatedly before firing four shots.
In his letter, Joseph wrote: “Your tweet that targeted a police officer in Ohio who saved a young woman’s life was irresponsible and disturbing. 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 said instead of apologizing, James deflected. He said the tweet was “the embodiment of hatred, rooted in a lack of understanding of the danger of the situation.”
He went on to say:
“Unlike some who have dug their heals in the belief that police are inherently evil, I think if you yourself actually sat down and had a real honest and open conversation with a cop, there is a strong chance you may discover we are not the monsters you have come to believe we are, who deserve the hate and distain you have. And even if you come away feeling the same way, I could respect it, because at least you gave the other side your ear instead of only hearing one narrative. The offer is on the table Lebron. No cameras. No fanfare. Just two men who care talking. I know it’s a long shot. But this division and hatred must stop. It’s clear based on rising crime in marginalized communities that cops and the community need to build bridges to save lives on all sides. That cannot be done through the demonization of any group of people.”
He ended by thanking James for all the “positive things” he does.
James has been criticized by others since the tweet.
The National Fraternal Order of Police, for example, called the act “disgraceful and extremely reckless.”