O.J. Simpson is weighing in on the criticism L.A. Lakers star LeBron James has faced since posting a now-deleted tweet in reaction to the shooting death of a 16-year-old Black girl in Columbus, Ohio, by a police officer.
Ma'Khia Bryant was shot and killed Tuesday afternoon. Bodycam footage from the incident shows that Officer Nicholas Reardon shot Bryant four times as she was swinging a knife at another girl during an altercation. The Ohio Bureau of Criminal Investigation is currently investigating the shooting.
The shooting, which happened the same day that former Minneapolis police officer Derek Chauvin was convicted of murdering George Floyd, sparked immediate outrage.
James' tweet read "YOU'RE NEXT #Accountability," along with an hourglass emoji and a picture of Reardon. Before that, James had tweeted "ACCOUNTABILITY" after Chauvin was found guilty.
Within hours of publishing the controversial comment about Reardon, James deleted the tweet, later explaining that it was being used to spread more hate.
In a video posted to Twitter Thursday, Simpson praised James for the work he has done for social justice and to fight systemic racism, but added that James needs to "pick your battles" and should have waited for more information before commenting.
"It's a war that must be fought, but sometimes you need to take your time and be a little more patient before you comment on some of these bad incidents that are happening with police departments," Simpson said.
Simpson also called out "most of the media" for its narratives of what happened. He said, from what he saw, he thought the officer had no choice.
"We wish he could have pulled a Taser," Simpson said. "We wish he could have done it in another way. But in that instance, if he hadn't done what he did, it appeared to me another young American would have had her life taken."
Simpson added he is against defunding the police, but is in favor of redirecting the funds to "better training," including "psychological training."
The National Fraternal Order of Police issued similar thoughts about James Wednesday.
"@KingJames, with his vast resources & influence, should educate himself and, frankly, has a responsibility to do so, on the facts before weighing in," the National Fraternal Order of Police posted from its Twitter account on Wednesday night. "This is disgraceful & extremely reckless. The officer saved a young girl's life. No amount of gaslighting will change that fact."
WKYC's Hope Sloop and Ben Axelrod contributed to this report.