As it turns out, the refreshingly thoughtful exchange last night between CNN’s Don Lemon and Chris Cuomo regarding the officer-involved shooting death of Ma’Khia Bryant was not the only surprisingly responsible segment about the case that aired on the network in the last 24 hours.
On this morning’s edition of “New Day,” co-hosts John Berman and Brianna Keilar interviewed law enforcement analyst Anthony Barksdale on the facts surrounding the case, inquiring as to whether the Columbus, Ohio police officer made the right call in his decision to use lethal force on Bryant.
During the segment, Barksdale noted that it was clear from the bodycam footage that the officer acted to protect another person from imminent bodily harm. He also pointed out that officers were trained to shoot “center mass, and that is your core, the chest area, your torso” in order to stop the threat.
“From a policing perspective” the officer handled the situation appropriately, Barksdale concluded.
Even after a sour-faced Keilar insinuated the officer could have mistakenly shot Bryant’s intended stabbing victim (the girl in the pink outfit) when he fired the four shots, and then asked Barksdale if anything could have been done differently, Barksdale pushed back.
“When you’re going to use — like I know that many say taser. Well, depending on the distance — I’m not sure of the distance — the taser doesn’t always work,” Barksdale told Keilar. “And you’re trying to — if we look at the video, the knife was cocked back, and it was going — it appeared to be ready to move forward. The officer had to use the best weapon that he had available, and that was his service weapon.”
Barksdale then laid out the situation that unfolded Tuesday and put it in perspective, while making a key point about how each officer-involved incident involving the use of force should be judged on an individual basis instead of collectively where people automatically assume the worst, which is what many on the left and in the media did:
“In seconds — I mean, look how fast this happens. He gets out, and he says, what’s going on, what’s going on, and that fast it rolls his way, and the next thing, he has to make a decision. And I’ve been trying to stress what officers go through when they’re put in these — in these situations. O-O-D-A. O-O-D-A, OODA. Observe, orient, decide what are you going to do, and then act. And this officer had to do all of this in split seconds.
And it is a tragedy. And I am not saying that this is just something society should just say, Oh, OK, she had a knife. No, I’m not saying that. I am saying that, per training, the officer did his job, and we need to start looking at each incident as its own incident.”
Keilar, as you’ll soon see in the video, did not appear to be impressed with Barkdale’s calm logic and insight. But co-host John Berman clearly was, and in the process, he made this important admission:
“I’m so glad you said that. I’m so glad you put it that way. Because we have to be able to say that, yes, things are a tragedy. Something can be tragic and not necessarily call into question the entire way that an officer responded.
And you say, look, we’ve got to look at each of these cases differently.”
CNN analyst on Ohio police shooting: “The officer did his job, and we need to start looking at each incident as its own incident.” pic.twitter.com/FtzD0BycZk
— Eddie Zipperer (@EddieZipperer) April 22, 2021
Where has this version of CNN been for the last decade or so? I’m not holding out hope that we’ll see many more instances of certain anchors on the network toning it down and doing actual reporting, but in this case, more power to Berman for acknowledging that cases should be judged on a case-by-case basis rather than the media immediately jumping to assume the worst.
I mean, I know it would drastically hurt CNN’s already-tanking ratings if they were to start taking this approach on a consistent basis, but still, if it needs to be done it should be done.