CNN hosts Don Lemon and Chris Cuomo defended the officer who fatally shot Ma’Khia Bryant, saying that he had a duty to protect the life of the girl she was attempting to stab.
Lemon began the exchange by describing the shooting, which took place Tuesday afternoon in Columbus Ohio, as “really, really tough.” Cuomo said that he and Lemon heard about the shooting while they were covering the verdict in the trial of Derek Chauvin, who was convicted of second-degree murder, third-degree murder, and second-degree manslaughter for the death of George Floyd.
The pair was skeptical of early reports that “didn’t seem right” and wanted to see more of what actually happened, Cuomo added.
“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,” Lemon said. “It is tragic that it’s a 16-year-old girl.”
“Just as it is tragic that it’s a 13-year-old in Chicago,” he continued, referring to 13-year-old Adam Toledo who was shot by police in Chicago. “When police are chasing people, they don’t know how old they are … 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.” (RELATED: ‘Not All Police Shootings Are Equal’: Don Lemon Defends Officer In Adam Toledo Shooting)
“And if they see someone who is in the process of taking a life, what is that decision, what decision do they have to make? Tasers don’t work the way guns work.”
Cuomo agreed that tasers don’t work the way guns work, especially at the distance that the officer was standing away from Bryant and with just a split-second to make a decision. Lemon made the point that tasers don’t always connect with the target they are trying to hit.
“But I see it, if the woman in the pink was my sister, niece, wife, whatever, you have to make a decision,” Lemon said. “Is one life on that scene more valuable than another. 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 in imminent danger at that point.”
Lemon added that the woman whom Bryant was charging with a knife was in imminent danger and that a stabbing can be more lethal than a gunshot.
“Sometimes I don’t feel for certain parties as much as others,” Cuomo said. “But I feel for that officer, you can hear it in his voice … this is something that he’s going to have to live with also.”
Cuomo said that this shooting was unlike George Floyd’s death, which “the whole country knew” was wrong. He said that an older woman of color told him that Ma’Khia Bryant’s family member, who was seen on the body camera footage running out of the house and kicking a woman whom Bryant pushed onto the sidewalk, should have intervened and stopped the situation.
“And, you know, I do see that perspective as well,” Cuomo continued. “The guy comes running out of the house, tries to kick one person in the head, he’s an active part of the fight. You know, the adults have to be adults, too.”
The two CNN hosts said that the police officer who shot Bryant “has a duty” to protect the life of the girl that the teenager was charging with a knife.
“I’m saying if you want to have this contextual conversation that people seem to want to have about what else we can do, people fight with knives all the time, do we really need cops? The answer is no, learn how to control your kids, you know don’t be so violent, you won’t need cops,” Cuomo added. “But that’s not our reality.”