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Charles Barkley on Thursday night was immediately blasted on social media after he appeared, to some, to defend the police officers who shot and killed Breonna Taylor.
Taylor was killed in March during a drug raid gone wrong. The only charges brought forth Wednesday were wanton endangerment against a fired officer for shooting into a home next to Taylor’s home. Numerous politicians, stars and pro athletes (such as LeBron James) blasted the outcome.
Barkley, however, on the TNT pregame show for the Los Angeles Lakers and Denver Nuggets game four of the Western Conference Finals, said the Taylor case, in his opinion, was not in the same vein as other instances of unarmed African Americans being killed by police.
“I don’t think this one was like George Floyd or Ahmaud Arbery and things like that,” Barkley began. “I feel sad that this young lady lost her life. I think this one was — the no-knock warrant is something we need to get rid of … across the board. But I am worried to lump all these situations in together.”
He continued, “And I just feel bad that the young lady lost her life. But we do have to take into account that her boyfriend shot at the cops and shot a cop. So like I say, even though I am really sorry she lost her life, I just don’t think we can put this in the same situation as George Floyd or Ahmaud Arbery.”
His comments were met with instant backlash on social media.
Shaquille O’Neal, who agreed with Barkley, was also criticized.
“I have to agree with Charles, this one is sort of lumped in,” O’Neal said. “You have to get a warrant signed and some states do allow no-knock warrants. And everyone was asking for murder charges. When you talk about murder, you have to show intent. A homicide occurred and we’re sorry a homicide occurred. When you have a warrant signed by the judge, you are doing your job, and I would imagine that you would fire back.”
Those two takes were a far cry from the previous night when former NBA player and current ESPN analyst Jalen Rose demanded the police involved in the shooting be charged.
“I just want people to know that Blacks are hurting — and as we relate it to sports, that sports that are predominantly Black — the NBA, the WNBA and the NFL — players are performing with heavy hearts,” Rose said Wednesday. “We’re still showing up to try and do our jobs. And I can’t lie to you all. I was looking in my closet like, ‘I am going to wear something fresh today because if I say something to get me fired, at least I would look crisp.'”
Following the Lakers’ victory in game four, James said, “I know we lost a beautiful woman in Breonna. And we want justice, no matter how long it takes.”
He continued, “We’re here playing this game and it is very hard and very difficult, but at the same time, our hearts are with that family. And it is just so unjust what’s going on. It’s a tragedy and we just hope there’s better days. We hope for better days and to spread love and not hate.”
8:45 p.m.: Updated with comments from LeBron James after the Lakers’ victory.
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