Charles Barkley and Sahquille O’Neal have been attacked on Twitter for defending the Louisville police officers who killed Breonna Taylor and blaming the black EMT’s boyfriend for opening fire first.
Barkley and O’Neal were discussing Taylor’s death and the decision not to indict any officers in her killing during the TNT pregame show ahead of the Los Angeles Lakers vs Denver Nuggets game on Thursday.
Barkley argued that Taylor’s death couldn’t be compared to the police killing of black man George Floyd because Taylor’s boyfriend Kenneth Walker first fired a shot at officers when they entered her apartment with a ‘no knock’ warrant.
‘I don’t think this one was like George Floyd or Ahmaud Arbery and things like that,’ Barkley said.
‘I feel sad that this young lady lost her life. I think the no-knock warrant is something we need to get rid of across the board. But we do have to take into account that her boyfriend shot at the cops and shot a cop.’
Shaquille O’Neal (left) and Charles Barkley (right) have come under fire after telling viewers of the Lakers-Nuggets game that Breonna Taylor’s death was ‘not the same’ as George Floyd
O’Neal agreed and argued the officers involved were simply ‘doing their job’ on a warrant signed by a judge.
He too added that he believed the system needed to change.
‘You have to get a warrant signed and some states do allow no-knock warrants. Everyone was asking for murder charges,’ he said. ‘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.’
O’Neal last year became a deputy in the auxiliary department of Florida’s Broward County Sheriff’s Office but is not clear what his duties entail. He has previously been sworn in as reserve police officers at departments in California, Florida and Arizona and as a deputy marshal in Lafayette, Louisiana.
While O’Neal has held a few roles in law enforcement since retiring from the NBA in 2011, his positions have mostly been unpaid and honorary.
Kentucky’s Attorney General Daniel Cameron announced on Wednesday that a grand jury had not sought criminal charges against the three police officers for their roles in Taylor’s death.
The grand jury’s decision to indict one officer, Brett Hankison, on wanton endangerment charges because his bullets were fired into a neighbor’s apartment came after a six-month investigation carried out by Cameron’s office.
One Twitter user accused the pair of ‘throwing black women under the bus’ as viewers vented their anger and frustration online
Herb Jones, a former Democrat candidate for the Virginia Senate, said he had ‘lost respect’ for both Barkley and O’Neal after their remarks
Echoing comments made by a retired LAPD sergeant on Thursday, one user branded the pair ‘skin folk’ but not ‘kin folk’
Barkley and O’Neal immediately came under fire on social media for their comments as they were accused of ‘defending the police’.
One person branded them: ‘Skin folk, not kin folk.’
‘Charles and Shaq both throwing black women under the bus,’ one account with the user name Justice for Breonna Taylor wrote. ‘SHAME, I used to be a fan.’
Herb Jones, a former Democrat candidate for the Virginia Senate, added: ‘Lost much respect for Charles Barkley and Shaquille O’Neal today regarding their comments regarding the murder of Breonna Taylor…
‘So it’s OK for some people to protect themselves but not OK for others?’
During the same show, Barkley also spoke out on calls by protesters to ‘defund the police’, cautioning against knee-jerk responses to cop killings.
He argued that defunding cops will mean officers being removed from white neighborhoods, leaving black ones unprotected.
‘Who are black folks supposed to call,’ he said, ‘Ghostbusters?’
Instead of removing police, he said ‘we need police reform and prison reform’.
Barkley’s comments stand in marked contrast to other prominent figures in the NBA, including LeBron James, who have thrown their weight behind social justice campaigners fighting for the officers to be charged.
Following Thursday night’s game, which saw the Lakers win, LeBron said: ‘I know we lost a beautiful woman in Breonna. And we want justice no matter how long it takes.
‘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 unjustice 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.’
Breonna Taylor was shot and killed by police during a botched police raid on her apartment back in March using a no-knock warrant
Breonna Taylor is pictured above with her boyfriend Kenneth Walker. He opened fire on the officers who stormed into Taylor’s apartment and the officers returned fire
It comes as more than 1,000 people defied a second night of curfew in Louisville to protest over the lack of criminal charges in Taylor’s death with some demonstrators seeking refuge in a church overnight.
Two officers had been shot during clashes in Louisville a day earlier.
Over a thousand people protested on Thursday evening in the city center, much of which was closed to traffic, with several shops boarded up in anticipation of more violence.
With a 9pm to 6.30am curfew in place through the weekend, about a hundred protesters in violation of the rule sought refuge at the First Unitarian Church.
Heavily armed police surrounded the building and helicopters whirled overhead but the demonstrators were allowed to leave around 11pm.
Authorities arrested at least 24 people on charges including unlawful assembly, failure to disperse and riot in the first degree, police said.
The city did, however, appear to avoid the violence of the previous evening.
Demonstrations have taken place in Louisville, where the shooting happened, amid the news that one officer has been indicted – and not for firing the shots that killed her
Since her death, and since the death of George Floyd, protesters have been calling for the officers involved to face harsh penalties
Police officers hold a perimeter around the First Unitarian Church where protesters are seeking refuge at during a curfew, a day after a grand jury decision in the March killing of Taylor in her home in Louisville, Kentucky
Protestors face off with police officers outside of First Unitarian Church of Louisville where they took refuge as they protest the lack of criminal charges in the police killing of Breonna Taylor, in downtown Louisville, Kentucky last night
Demonstrators also gathered in others cities across the country, including Philadelphia, New York and Los Angeles.
In Los Angeles, a vehicle ran through a crowd of people protesting police brutality, injuring at least one person.
Footage from the ground as well as a news chopper shows a black pickup truck plowing into the crowd, striking a woman and throwing her to the pavement.
As the protesters begin to swarm around the truck, trying to open the driver’s side door, the truck speeds off, appearing to drive over the injured protester and narrowly missing a street medic who rushed to attend to her.
An LAPD helicopter that was tracking the protest was able to follow the truck as it sped off, directing ground units which pulled over the driver.
The truck driver was seen being taken into police custody, but his name has not been released and charging information was not immediately available.
In Portland, a city that has seen many protests since the death of George Floyd in Minneapolis, a fire was set at a police union building.
In St. Louis, protesters blocked westbound lanes of Interstate 64, and in New York City, a large group of demonstrators marched into Manhattan from Brooklyn over the Williamsburg Bridge.