What Charles Barkley Said About Breonna Taylor and Defund the Police

Charles Barkley has sparked controversy for suggesting the death of Breonna Taylor could not be compared to those of George Floyd and Ahmaud Arbery as police officers simply reacted to defend themselves after being shot at.

A 26-year-old Black woman, Taylor was shot dead on March 13 in her apartment in Louisville, Kentucky when police officers serving a so-called "no-knock warrant" raided her home during a narcotics investigation.

It subsequently emerged the warrant used was connected to a suspect who did not live on the premises and no drugs were found in the apartment.

On Wednesday, protests erupted in several U.S. cities after Jefferson County grand jury delivered its long-awaited verdict on the case and charged fired LMPD officer Brett Hankison with three counts of wanton endangerment for firing shots that went into another home with people inside.

Prosecutors ruled that the two officers who fired shots were justified in using force to protect themselves and neither Hankison nor his two colleagues were directly indicted on charges directly related to Taylor's death.

Barkley, however, argued that the factor Taylor's boyfriend, Kenneth Walker, fired a shot after being woken up by the officers entering the premises justified the police response.

"It's just bad the young lady lost her life, but we do have to take into account that her boyfriend did shoot at the cops and shot a cop," he said on NBA on TNT before Game 4 of the Western Conference Finals between the Los Angeles Lakers and the Denver Nuggets on Thursday night.

"So, like I said, even though I'm really sorry she lost her life, I don't think we can just put this in the same situation as George Floyd and Ahmaud Arbery."

Charles Barkley says you can't put the Breonna Taylor case in the same situation as George Floyd, Ahmaud Arbery because her boyfriend shot at the police pic.twitter.com/8dMjVMZp39

— gifdsports (@gifdsports) September 25, 2020

Barkley found an ally in NBA on TNT's co-host Shaquille O'Neal, who suggested Taylor's death could not be considered on the same level as Floyd's and Arbery's.

"I have to agree with Charles, this one [Taylor's killing] is sort of lumped in," the four-time NBA champion, who has been sworn as a reserve officer in the states of California, Arizona and Florida, said.

"You have to get a warrant signed and some states do allow no-knock warrants. And everyone was asking for murder charges. 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."

Barkley then criticized calls to defund police forces across the U.S., a topic that has monopolized the social and political conversations after Floyd died while in custody of the Minneapolis Police Department on May 25.

On Wednesday, former San Francisco 49ers Colin Kaepernick went a step further, describing the police as a "white supremacist institution" that "must be abolished for the safety and well being of our people."

Barkley, however, stood firmly at the opposite end of the spectrum.

"I hear these fools on TV talk about 'defund the police,' 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," he added.

"So that notion that they keep saying that, I'm like wait a minute who are Black people supposed to call? Ghostbusters? We need police reform."

Charles Barkley
Charles Barkley speaks at the podium prior to his sculpture being unveiled at the Philadelphia 76ers training facility on September 13, 2019 in Camden, New Jersey. Mitchell Leff/Getty