News organizations that align themselves with anti-police brutality protests are partly to blame for a law enforcement officer’s tragic death in Oklahoma, a Republican congressman said.
Rep. Markwayne Mullin (R-Okla.) has criticized mainstream media outlets for portraying the Tulsa Police Department as an enemy of the people.
He believes news reports have become increasingly pro “anarchist,” confusing Americans into taking the law into their own hands.
David Anthony Ware, 32, is suspected of shooting Sgt. Craig Johnson and rookie officer Aurash Zarkeshan during a routine traffic stop in Tulsa, on June 29. The officers repeatedly asked Ware to exit the vehicle and, when the suspect did not follow the instruction, police used a taser and pepper spray to remove him by force.
When Ware finally left the vehicle he drew a handgun and opened fired multiple times at about 3:30 a.m. Johnson died the next day while Zarkeshan, who had only graduated from the police academy five weeks prior, was in a critical condition in the hospital. Ware fled the scene and was arrested seven hours later.
“Just as we are responsible for what we say, the media is also responsible for what they say,” he said on Twitter. “With the national media painting law enforcement as our enemy, I truly believe that the blood of two officers shot in cold blood in Tulsa is partially on their hands.”
Extreme protests have swept across the nation since Minnesotan George Floyd died in police custody.
Sen. James Lankford (R-Okla.) believes now is not the time to spread hate toward frontline workers, and Americans should show their solidarity with Johnson’s surviving colleagues.
“Now is a time to band together in support of the police officers who serve with honor and are willing to make the ultimate sacrifice to protect everyone in our communities,” he said on Twitter.
The senator revealed many local residents expressed their condolences to Johnson’s surviving parents, wife, and two sons.
“[My wife] Cindy and I are praying for the family of Sgt. Johnson and the entire Tulsa community as we grieve the loss of one of our own,” he said on Twitter. “The news is heartbreaking to the entire nation, we pray his family knows that Oklahomans everywhere mourn with them and pray for them today.”
Some residents covered a patrol car with flowers, balloons, national flags, and handmade signs at the division where the sergeant used to work.
Tulsa Police Chief Wendell Franklin described Johnson’s death as a “tremendous loss” to the city.
“His sacrifice will not go unremembered,” he said according to The Associated Press.
The motive behind the shooting is unclear and police investigations are continuing.