By: Alyssa Wilson
A Los Angeles Police officer penned an open letter to LeBron James after the NBA star tweeted about the officer who shot and killed Ma’Khia Bryant.
James received backlash for the tweet, which has since been deleted.
Officer Deon Joseph is a law enforcement consultant who has worked with the LAPD for more than 25 years. He wrote the letter because James’ tweets “disheartened” him. In his letter to the athlete, he said:
“Your current stance on policing is so off base and extreme. 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.”
I am not going to come at you from a place of hatred. There will be no name calling. I was raised to see…
Joseph joined Start Your Day with Sharon Reed and Mike Hill to discuss why he wrote the letter and his experiences as a Black police officer. He said that the words tweeted by James were the “embodiment of hatred.”
When asked about his experiences, Joseph said he has faced racial profiling as a civilian and police officer. Growing up in Los Angeles, he recalled how he saw Rodney King’s beating and how it impacted how he saw police growing up.
Despite this, his time as an officer has given him a different perspective. “The only difference between LeBron and I is that I saw the other side,” he said.
Ma’Khia Bryant was 16 years old when she was killed by Officer Nicholas Reardon in Columbus.
Joseph recalled an incident where he almost shot a 19-year-old during a pursuit. He said if he had shot the teen, all the good deeds he’s done could be ignored due to tweets like the one James posted.
“It took me back to a time when I almost had to shoot a 19 year old,” says @ofcrdeonjoseph as he explains the open letter he penned to @KingJames about policing. #StartYourDay pic.twitter.com/pn1q8zpbap
— BNC (@BNCNews) May 3, 2021
Joseph said LeBron James has influence and should be careful with how he uses his words. “We have to be careful what we say and we also have to develop an understanding of the reality of our job. It’s not easy,” Joseph said.
After deleting the initial tweet, James posted again explaining why he deleted it.
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
— LeBron James (@KingJames) April 21, 2021
If you or someone you know is struggling from trauma triggered by police violence, resources are available here.