CNN anchors Don Lemon and Chris Cuomo came to the defense of the Columbus, Ohio, police officer who fatally shot 16-year-old Ma’Khia Bryant this week, saying the officer had a “duty” to protect any potential victims from the knife-wielding teen.
“We are dealing with a lot of emotion right now,” Mr. Lemon said at the top of his show Wednesday. “There’s a lot of anguish. People are very emotional right now, but we’ve got to be fair about what happens when police arrive at scenes.”
“When they roll up on the scene, they see people tussling around, someone has a knife, and their job is to protect and serve every life on that scene,” he continued. “And if they see someone who is in the process of taking a life, what decision do they have to make? And I know that people say well, you know, you could do this, you could do that. Tasers don’t work the way guns work. Not at that distance.”
Mr. Cuomo agreed that police have a “duty to use force to protect his own life or the life of another.”
The remarks come in stark contrast to left-wing criticism of a Columbus officer who shot and killed Ma’;Khia, who was Black, Tuesday, just minutes before the verdict was read in the killing of George Floyd. Democrats, celebrities and prominent Black Lives Matter activists argued deadly force wasn’t necessary against Ma’Khia, even though body-cam footage clearly showed her lunging with a knife at another female wearing pink.
White House press secretary Jen Psaki called the shooting “tragic” and tied it to racial injustice in America.
“We know that police violence disproportionately impacts Black and Latino people in communities, and that Black women and girls, like Black men and boys, experience higher rates of police violence,” Ms. Psaki said.
But Mr. Lemon said Wednesday that people should take into account that the potential victim’s life matters, too.
“If the woman in the pink was my sister, niece, wife, whatever, you have to make a decision. Is one life on that scene more valuable than another?” he asked. “And if someone is trying to take a life on that scene, do you protect the life of the person trying to take the life, or do you protect the life of the person whose life is an imminent danger at that moment?”
“That other person’s life was in imminent danger,” he added. “Even in the slowed-down version, the slow-mo version. That slow version was a second. Second. Imagine in real-time, how fast this is happening.”
“The moment you saw that, you knew it was wrong, the whole country knew it was wrong — White, Black, whatever — you knew,” Mr. Cuomo said of the May 25 incident that sparked worldwide protests.
The men also agreed that a Taser or less-lethal means of intervention likely would not have worked in Ma’Khia‘s case, and that “the other person could have been bleeding out on the sidewalk as well,” Mr. Lemon said.
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