By Weston Blasi
A previous version of this report indicated that police were involved in the death of Ahmaud Arbery. The story has been corrected.
In the days after it was announced that no officers would be indicted for Breonna Taylor’s death, several high-profile athletes, including LeBron James , Donovan Mitchell and Megan Rapinoe, have voiced criticisms after a Kentucky grand jury failed to recommend charges against Louisville police for the shooting death of the 26-year-old medical technician at her home.
Prior to Thursday’s matchup between the Los Angeles Lakers and the Denver Nuggets, NBA hall of famer Charles Barkley reacted to the Breonna Taylor news on TNT’s show “Inside the NBA.”
“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,” Barkley said. “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.”
George Floyd died in May after a white Minneapolis police officer knelt on his neck for several minutes, and Ahmaud Arbery was chased down by a white Georgia man and his son and fatally shot in February while jogging in his neighborhood. Both Floyd and Arbery were Black men.
Barkley, speaking with host Ernie Johnson and fellow analysts Kenny Smith and Shaquille O’Neal, expanded on his remark by explaining why he is not a fan of the “Defund the Police” movement, which calls generally for some funds to be redirected to social and other services to tackle problems that today’s police forces are less equipped to handle, though some municipalities have considered disbanding and reconstituting their police departments entirely.
“I hear fools on TV talking about ‘Defund the Police’ and things like that, [and] we need police reform and prison reform and things like that. Because you know who ain’t gonna defund the cops? White neighborhoods and rich neighborhoods,” Barkley claimed. “Who are black people supposed to call, Ghostbusters?”
Regarding “Defund the Police,” the president of the Center for Urban and Racial Equity recently wrote for MarketWatch that “the renewed national conversation about police violence has opened a window for elected officials and community members to consider a range of abolition strategies designed to reprioritize budgets and spending, reduce the militarization of police departments, shift power to marginalized communities and reduce the need for police altogether. “
No officers were indicted over the death of Breonna Taylor, but fired officer Brett Hankison was charged for shooting into neighboring apartments. The FBI is still investigating potential violations of federal law in the Breonna Taylor case .
The officers who shot Taylor multiple times entered her home on a no-knock warrant during a narcotics investigation. The warrant used to search her home was connected to a suspect who did not live there, and no drugs were found inside . The use of no-knock warrants has since been banned by Louisville’s Metro Council.